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U.S. EPA completes assessment of abandoned underground storage tanks on tribal lands

Release Date: 10/18/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Projection Agency, in coordination with the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Hopi Tribe, have completed assessment activities at nine abandoned underground storage tank sites.

The EPA recently began site assessment activities at nine abandoned underground storage tank sites -- seven sites on the San Carlos Apache reservation and at two sites on Hopi Tribal land. Preliminary findings indicate that the sites are clean, and a final report will be available in 45 days.

The EPA expects to start work on additional sites over the next few months, and is working on a multi-year plan to conduct site assessments at all eligible sites for federal cleanup funding throughout tribal lands.

For those facilities where site assessments show fuel contamination from underground storage tanks at levels threatening human health and the environment, the EPA will conduct necessary cleanup work.

"The EPA is excited about breaking ground on this project and working with our tribes on restoring precious lands and water resources in Indian Country," said Jeff Scott, the EPA's Waste Management Division director for Pacific Southwest region.

"This is a positive step for the community and the EPA program. We need to continue our efforts to clean up and address the various polluted storage sites as well as other harmful toxicants that may be present on the reservation," said David Reede, a San Carlos Apache, EPA Committee Member. "We should all be concerned because if these pollutants are not removed they could eventually affect our ground water. I expect to see such efforts increase in the near future with our EPA program. We plan to protect our most essential asset here on the reservation, our people."

"The Hopi Tribe is pleased to be a recipient of this project in order to restore these abandoned sites on Hopi lands. Owners of these sites are deceased and the properties have been inherited by individuals that lack the financial means to address closure requirements," said Ken Lomayestewa, an underground storage tank technician with the Hopi Environmental Protection Office. " This is a great example of government to government coordination and the sharing of a common goal -- natural resource restoration and protection."

The San Carlos Apache and the Hopi abandoned sites are the first site to be addressed by the EPA Pacific Southwest Region's tribal lands initiative launched in May 2005.

For more information on the EPA's underground storage tank program, visit: