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Innovative Agreement between EPA and Colville Tribe Spurs Cleanup on Contaminated Reservation Property
Release Date: 2/4/2002
Contact Information: Jeff Philip
February 4, 2002
Innovative Agreement between EPA and Colville Tribe
Spurs Cleanup on Contaminated Reservation Property
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have created a unique hazardous waste cleanup/economic development partnership that will help hasten the return of contaminated property to productive use. Under the agreement announced today, the Colville Tribal Enterprises Corporation(CTEC) will finish the cleanup at the former site of Quality Veneer & Lumber, Inc., in partnership with EPA, and then develop the property for commercial re-use.
According to John Iani, Regional Administrator in Seattle, today's agreement highlights how "new thinking" can often tackle environmental challenges.
"EPA and the Colville Tribe both want to get to the same place," said Iani. "We're working as equal partners to protect our families, clean up the environment and invest in a better economy. By giving this property the attention it needs so it can be put back into productive use, we all benefit."
In 1998, EPA issued an Order to Quality Veneer and Lumber, Inc., the then owner of the property to address environmental problems on the company’s property resulting from past operations. The company completed most of the required cleanup work before filing for bankruptcy in September 2000.
As the bankruptcy proceedings moved forward, Colville Tribal Enterprises Corporation expressed an interest in acquiring the QVL property. But, aware of the unresolved environmental issues at the site, CTEC consulted with the tribe's Environmental Trust Department and EPA in an effort to better understand what environmental work remained.
In June of this year, the tribe approached EPA with the concept of coordinating environmental work, in which the tribe's Environmental Trust Department, acting under their tribal law, would join forces with EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authority. Together, the tribe and EPA would and act as a "co-regulator" at the site, with CTEC conducting the environmental work specified in the agreements.
Sharing the tribe's goals of cleaning up the property, reducing environmental and health risks, and returning the site to productive use, EPA agreed to the arrangement and EPA and the ETD issued "Consolidated Administrative Orders on Consent." The agreements are effective immediately and work is expected to begin by spring of 2002.
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