1992 Northport WA Article on town’s “death list” & link to Teck Smelter

Spokane Chronicle – May 27, 1992

“Canadian Companies Suspected in Illness”

Read this archived article at:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=kxd3qP2_5uAC&dat=19920527&printsec=frontpage&hl=en (pages 7 & 8 or B1 & B2)

The last paragraph in the story is a quote from my Grandma, regarding all the illnesses found in Northport residents, specifically the children;

“It’s too late for my children because they’ve already got these problems,” she (Kay Paparich) said. “But what about the little ones coming up?”

This article, and her quote, was published 19 years ago.

Over 15 Northport children have since been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s.

Another 17 children have been diagnosed with one of the other illnesses found in clusters throughout the community, spanning 3 generations of residents.

In this same article another Northport residents is quoted as saying;“This is my death list”.

She is referring to the list of 45 Northport residents who had passed away from cancer.
The current Human Health Risk Assessment being done by the EPA, regarding the health impacts the millions of tons of toxins Teck Smelter dumped into the air and Columbia River for over a Century, Northport, (located 3 miles downriver from the Canadian smelter), will not be looked at further as the EPA states their past research has shown no link to the chronic exposure to the smelters heavy metal toxins and the reported illnesses in the town.

Northport’s population has been stable at 350 since 1925. Currently we have identified 6 health clusters spanning three generations of Northport residents.

This is the largest amount of separate, non-infectious, health clusters ever found in the United States.

The EPA and the DOH still claim that: “there is no public health hazard for people living in the area…. if (their outdoor exposure is) up to 35 days in a year.”

I guess the good people of Northport Washington just have to hold their breath the other 330 days of the year….oh and hide inside their homes (preferably in a cellar if available).

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by D. Evans on August 28, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I find it interseting that there is never any mention of the pollution created by the smelter in Northport itself.

    IF there is a culprit maybe there is more than one .. food for thought.

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    • Actually there was a superfund clean-up of the old LeRoi smelter sight in 2004, as well as an ATSDR Health Risk Assessment. I totally agree this old smelter site (smelter halted operation in 1906) is partially to blame.
      But the EPA’s 2002 investigation of Northport concluded toxin levels of concern found in all environmental testing done in Northport and the Upper Columbia River to Lake Roosevelt were from Teck, being the only lead and zinc smelter in the area and including the pesticide plant that they operated until 1986 on the smelter site made this possible. Teck did not dispute the findings.
      But you do have a valid point as the health assessment the ATSDR published in conjunction with LeRoi Superfund clean up stated levels of arsenic,lead,mercury and cadmium were 100’s times higher than ASIL & NOEL safety standards. Yet the DOH, ATSDR & EPA told us that there was no cause for concern….if we limited our outdoor exposure to the area to no more than 14 days, or two weeks, a year.
      Very helpful.
      They did clean up a few local residents yards, watering down the toxic dust their work created with water from the River. The same water carrying the 450 tones of heavy metal toxins Teck dumped directly into the river DAILY.

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      • You can download the “Health Consultation – LeRoi Smelter Company, Northport WA” pdf at:
        http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/oehas/pubs/leroismelter0505.pdf

        Here is a blurb from that DOH/ATSDR 2005 Consultation:

        “Long-term ingestion (greater than 6 months) of smaller amounts of arsenic that have been found in Northport has the potential to cause several different health problems. Illnesses strongly linked to this type of exposure include bladder cancer, lung cancer, non-melanoma skin cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, damage to peripheral nerves, and changes to the pattern of color or thickness of the skin.”

        NOTE they state: “Illnesses strongly linked to this type of exposure” (to arsenic, exposure greater than six months). The list of illnesses and cancers that follow that statement are the exact illnesses and cancers that continue to plague Northport residents, past and present.

        The DOH and ATSDR admit it in this 2005 Consultation, but when questioned about health concerns in the community possibly being linked to the high levels of arsenic consistently found in the different monitorings of the town’s air, water and soil, they claim there is no evidence to show that any of the health issues could be linked to long term exposure to the elevated levels of arsenic.

        If you are, or were, a Northport resident stop and think of how many people you know personally, or know of, with the illnesses and/or cancers listed above?
        Bladder, lung, skin, liver, prostate, kidney cancer….

        These are just the illnesses and cancers linked to arsenic. What about the illnesses and cancers linked to chronic exposure to Cadmium? Mercury? Manganese? Lead? Sulfur Dioxide? Particulate Matter?

        The list of illness linked to each of those toxins is long, and they can all be found in the residents from this small little town.

        The EPA, ATSDR and DOH clearly knew this when they did the LeRoi Smelter Superfund cleanup in 2004, not to mention the other investigations of the area they have done since 1986…..

        For 25 years they have known of the danger the community members of Northport were in. They never even warned them, they went so far as to tell them that the levels of toxins they found would not likely cause any health issues at all.

        In those 25 years their silence caused just as much, if not more, damage than the millions of tons of heavy metal toxins Teck Smelter carelessly released into the river and air for over a Century.

        The EPA’s current Human Health Risk Assessment, which began in 2010, doesn’t even plan to do any new testing in Northport.

        I won’t accept their silence this time. The DOH, EPA, ATSDR and any other State and Federal Agency need to be held accountable for the damages and deaths they could have prevented.

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