Faith, Environmental Groups To Hold Vigil To Raise Awareness of Contaminants At Cataldo Mission

Sep 29, 2021

Crews are installing a mile-and-a-half long underground wall along Interstate near Kellogg to stop contaminated mine water from reaching the Coeur d'Alene River. Mining has released contaminants into waterways in the region for more than a century, and sites in the area have also become repositories for waste.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Faith leaders and environmental groups will meet Sunday to raise awareness of a waste repository in North Idaho and the area’s legacy of pollution.

The site is where waste from both residential and commercial properties containing metals that are toxic to humans and animals is stored. Historically, the region was also contaminated by waste from mining operations.

Pastor Gen Heywood, an organizer for the event, said the water in the area is unsafe for humans, and said she hopes to remind people the importance of proactively protecting the environment.

“It’s a great cautionary tale when you stand by that water, and there are signs that say this is not healthy for pregnant women and children,” she said. “There are signs that say if you get mud on your boat, be sure to wash it off and don’t take any of it home.”

Communities around the repository, including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, churches and residents, have long opposed it, especially because of its proximity to the historic Cataldo Mission.

“It’s so important to stop pollution before it happens,” Heywood said.

The group will meet Sunday at 3 p.m. at Cataldo’s Old Mission State Park at the Old Mission Landing. They will hold a vigil and hear from those impacted by contaminants.