In 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Brownfields Tribal Response Program and has since then, grown into a principal nationwide plan of environmental restoration. In 2003, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes began a Tribal Brownfields Response Program funded by grant monies provided by the EPA.
As you read this, you might say to yourself "we do not have such Brownfields here on the Flathead Indian Reservation" but in fact we may. Brownfields can be almost anywhere and any thing that includes underground storage tanks, Methamphetamine labs, abandoned or under used buildings, and opens dumps.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency State and tribal response programs play a significant role in cleaning up Brownfields. As Congress recognized in the legislative history of the Brownfields Law, "The vast majority of contaminated sites across the nation will not be cleaned up by the Superfund program. Instead, most sites will be cleaned up under State authority." Prior to the passage of the Brownfields Law, EPA developed a framework for negotiations between EPA regions and states regarding State Voluntary Cleanup Programs. This preliminary framework was the precursor to how EPA works with states and tribes today.
The EPA also states that the continued demand for Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment in communities throughout the country, coupled with increasingly limited state and tribal resources, makes access to federal funding critical. The law authorizes EPA to provide up to $50 million in grants to states and tribes to establish or enhance their response programs. Generally, these response programs address the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of Brownfields. In 2003, EPA distributed almost $50 million among all 50 states, 30 tribes, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. This funding will enable states and tribes to develop or enhance their response program's infrastructure and capabilities. For some recipients, the funding will provide an opportunity to create new response programs to address contaminated properties. States and tribes also can use the new funding to capitalize a revolving fund for cleanup, purchase environmental insurance, or develop other insurance mechanisms to provide financing for cleanup activities. In addition, the funds can be used to establish or maintain the statutorily required public record, to oversee cleanups, and to conduct site-specific activities.
The EPA provides financial assistance to states and tribes, which increases their capacity to meet the Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment challenges. It will also help to ensure that properties are cleaned up safely, according to state and tribal standards to protect Human Health and the Environment. In the start of the Tribal Response Program in 2003, the Program received grant funds in the amount of $99,000. In 2011/12, the Program received grant funds in the amount of $155,000. These funds were used to perform program management activities that include but not limited to;
Administer and implement the TRP Four Elements.
- Timely Survey and Inventory of Brownfield Sites.
- Oversight and enforcement Authorities or Other mechanisms and Resources.
- Mechanisms and Resources to Provide Meaningful Opportunities for Public Participation.
- Mechanisms for Approval of a Cleanup Plan and Verification and Certification that Clean-up are Complete
Fiscal Year 2015/16 Highlights
During the past year the Brownfield TRP performed ten (10) Phase I Environmental Site Assessments and one (9) Phase II Environmental Site Assessments utilizing a Community-Wide Assessment grant funding.
The past 3 years, the program manager oversaw the final end of the cleanup at the Former Elmo Cash Store and the adjacent contaminated property, the Former Joseph Allotment. The cleanup Project was a success and now the program manager is looking forward to conducting additional assessments to find the potential for contaminants and seek out additional funding to remediate.
You can also view the Public Record by visiting the NRD Tribal Response Program office located office at 301 Main Street, Polson, MT 59860.
The Brownfield TRP Program has attended numerous training sessions on Brownfield, solid waste, and hazardous waste contaminants. The trainings assists the TRP manager and her staff with keeping the reservation in its pristine environment and to ensure the protection of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes natural resources, its’ people, and our future generation.
The Tribal Response Program also completed a reservation wide Baseline Brownfield inventory with sites added to the Brownfield Inventory as new sites are recognized, as of today the Tribal Response Program has an estimated 157 potential Brownfield Sites on the reservation with two sites cleaned utilizing Brownfield Competitive Cleanup grant funds and 1 other smaller site was cleaned utilizing Brownfield Tribal Response grant funds.
As of today the Brownfield Tribal Response Program has conducted the following:
- Phase I ESA- 50
- Phase II ESA- 52
- Cleanup- 3
The public can view all assessments, cleanups, and the public record on this page.
The Brownfield Tribal Response Program ensures the protection of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes natural resources by inspecting the exterior boundaries of the reservation for illegal or abandoned sites that might comprise of solid and/or hazardous substance such as Illegal dumping that consists of waste materials that are unknown until investigated, these materials may have the probability to contaminate the natural resources of the reservation, and may cause severe health risks to the public and our water resources.
The Brownfield’s TRP Program conducts inspections through an approach that consist of; sample collection, laboratory and chemical analysis, field investigation, research, Photos’, observations, documenting, interviews, and inquiries. This assists the program to ensure that the safety of the tribes’ pristine natural resources is met.
If you have a complaint, you have 2 options available to get your complaint into the Tribal Response Program’s office:
- Come into the office and fill out a TRP Complaint Form, or
- Find the Complaint Form on-line at the forms to the right.
The Solid/Hazardous Waste/Tribal Response Program Manager can also be reached at (406) 675-2700 ext 7215. The Natural Resources Department offices are located at 301 Main Street in Polson, Montana. Normal office hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Thursday. Closed most holidays.