Despite nearly two decades of research and remediation efforts, hazardous chemicals leaching from the Fort Hall Mine Landfill continue to  pollute groundwater south of Pocatello.

In an effort to finally correct this issue, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is requesting that Bannock County sign a consent order committing to correcting  the problem. Bannock County has until Nov. 15  to sign the consent order.

What Are the Pollutants?

The pollutants of concern are all man-made solvents used primarily for cleaning, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride. These pollutants are all known human carcinogens, and more information is available via the Agency for Toxic Substances and  Disease Registry.

What You Can Do

First,  if you live in this region  and own a groundwater well but haven’t heard from DEQ, reach out and see if your well needs testing.

Second, make sure you and everyone you know properly disposes of hazardous waste.  Proactively protecting our drinking water sources  is much more effective then treating them after they’ve been contaminated. Once groundwater is contaminated it is extremely difficult-and expensive-to fully clean up.

Find Out More

DEQ first became aware of this issue in the early 90s after a number of private and municipal wells that were contaminated had to be closed down. Bannock County installed a treatment system in the early 2000s to fix  the issue, though increases in contaminant levels indicate the treatment system is not effective. DEQ has prepared a FAQ sheet  about the history of this contamination and what is being proposed to fix it.