Tribal Cleanup Assistance | Region 10 | US EPA

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Tribal Cleanup Assistance

Overview
This web page describes the work that is done by the Office of Environmental Cleanup in EPA Region 10. Following the description of each basic type of work, a list of resources that may be useful to Tribes is provided. The resources are typically grants that may be available, but also include training or technical assistance. if you have any questions about the work or resources, please e-mail or call the identified contact person.

Most of ECL's work is implementing the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as "Superfund," CERCLA authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify and clean up hazardous substances sites that threaten public health and the environment. Superfund operates along three main tracks:
As part of our emergency response program, ECL implements a number of planning and prevention programs, including the Oil Pollution Act (OPA); Clean Air Act 112(r); Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC); and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). ECL also implements the Brownfields program, the purpose of which is to return sites to productive use that are currently unused because of perceived or actual contamination.


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Site Discovery and Evaluation to Determine Whether a Site Warrants Listing on the National Priorities List (NPL) (Top)

If a tribe or a member of the public has a concern about a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, they can petition EPA to investigate the problem to determine whether action under Superfund is needed. The term "release" includes any means by which a substance could be exposed to the environment, such as by spilling, leaking, discharging, dumping, injecting, and escaping. Under CERCLA any member of the public may formally petition the Federal government to conduct a preliminary assessment (PA). A PA is the first step in the evaluation EPA conducts to verify the existence of the reported released hazardous substance or waste. The PA is designed to distinguish between sites that pose little or no threat to human health and the environment and sites that require further investigation. If the PA shows that there is a serious immediate threat, EPA may use Superfund money through the emergency removal program to quickly remove the hazardous substance.

Site Discovery and Evaluation to Determine Whether a Site Warrants Listing on the National Priorities List (NPL) (Top)

If a tribe or a member of the public has a concern about a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, they can petition EPA to investigate the problem to determine whether action under Superfund is needed. The term "release" includes any means by which a substance could be exposed to the environment, such as by spilling, leaking, discharging, dumping, injecting, and escaping. Under CERCLA any member of the public may formally petition the Federal government to conduct a preliminary assessment (PA). A PA is the first step in the evaluation EPA conducts to verify the existence of the reported released hazardous substance or waste. The PA is designed to distinguish between sites that pose little or no threat to human health and the environment and sites that require further investigation. If the PA shows that there is a serious immediate threat, EPA may use Superfund money through the emergency removal program to quickly remove the hazardous substance.

If the threat is not immediate and the PA recommends further study, EPA will conduct a Site Inspection (SI) which typically involves collecting waste and environmental samples to determine the substances present at the site and whether they are being released to the environment. The primary objective of the SI is to identify which sites have a high probability of qualifying for the National Priorities List (NPL).

At the completion of both the PA and SI, EPA applies the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) to derive a site score and determine either that further investigation is necessary or that the site should receive a "no further remedial action planned" (NFRAP) recommendation. A NFRAP recommendation means that further action under the Federal Superfund program is not planned; however, action may still be appropriate under some other program such as a state or tribal cleanup program. Except in emergency situations where a release or a threat of release could pose an imminent threat to human health and the environment, petitioners should be aware that under Superfund EPA cannot pursue investigation and cleanup of certain types of sites. For example, the law says Superfund does not cover petroleum or natural gas, engine exhaust emissions, normal use of fertilizer or pesticides, certain releases within a workplace, and some releases of nuclear materials. However, under the Oil Pollution Act EPA does have emergency response authority to respond to these types of releases and the Superfund Emergency Response Program, described above, should be contacted in these instances.

Petitioners should also be aware that on federally owned non-Indian lands, the federal agency responsible for the property is required to conduct the PA and subsequent investigations and cleanups. However, EPA oversees that effort and determines whether the site should or should not be listed on the NPL. Sites with an HRS score of 28.5 points or greater are eligible for proposal to the NPL and a formal HRS package may be prepared.

Website: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/action/process/sfproces.htm
Region 10 Contact: Monica Tonel at (206) 553-0323 Resources


Investigation and Cleanup of Sites Listed on the NPL (Top)

Sites on the NPL are investigated to determine the risks they pose to human health and the environment. If the risks they pose exceed the risk thresholds set in CERCLA, the sites are cleaned up to eliminate, reduce or control those risks and bring them within acceptable federal and state standards.

Each NPL site has an assigned EPA remedial project manager (RPM) who is responsible for managing the investigation and cleanup of the site. Because under Superfund, EPA seeks to get the responsible parties to pay for and conduct the investigation and cleanup, the RPM often oversees the work of these responsible parties.

There are numerous possibilities under CERCLA for tribes to be involved in NPL sites. There are funding mechanisms called cooperative agreements through which tribal involvement can be supported. To apply for these funding sources, tribes must be federally recognized. In addition, tribes can be involved as a natural resource trustee. In that capacity, the tribe may be in a position to seek compensation for the natural resource damage caused by the contamination at the site.

Resources
Website: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/action/process/sfproces.htm
Region 10 Contact: Piper Peterson at (206) 553-4951


NAME="er">Emergency or Time-Critical Response to Remove Imminent and Substantial Threats to Human Health and the Environment at NPL and Non-NPL Sites (Top)

On Scene Coordinators (OSCs) are the key EPA staff who respond to time-critical situations involving oil or hazardous substances. One of the OSCs is on-call 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies. An EPA OSC can be reached either through a nationwide toll free number at the National Response Center, 1-800-424-8802, or through a local Seattle 24-hour number which is (206) 553-1263. In Alaska, Oregon, and Idaho, there are OSCs that can be contacted directly during regular business hours.

EPA has the capability to respond to emergencies and can conduct an emergency action to cleanup a site until it is stabilized and no longer poses the initial threat. Before it does so, EPA evaluates via screening of telephone calls whether an emergency, on-scene response is necessary. A release or threat of release of a hazardous substance that could pose harm to public health or the environment forms the basis for a response. Examples of threats from a release include inhaling toxics released to air, drinking water highly contaminated by a hazardous substance, direct contact with hazardous substances, or explosion hazards.

To expedite matters callers reporting incidents should provide the following information, if possible:
  • Incident location
  • Material name (if known) or generic description (oil, hazardous substance, other)
  • Source of spill (pipeline, underground or above ground tank, drums, etc.)
  • Medium affected (land, air, water, other)
  • Cause of spill (dumping, transportation accident, other)
  • Whether other agencies have been notified

EPA's initial response to calls and site assessment to determine need for an emergency response is part of its overhead costs. However, callers should be aware that while EPA can and will respond to emergencies on tribal lands, EPA will seek to recover costs of any cleanup it conducts from individuals who are liable for the contamination. To help identify parties who may be liable for a contamination problem, EPA relies on both civil and criminal investigators. This may have implications for tribes and tribal members. While EPA does not consider tribes to be liable under Superfund, this does not extend to individual tribal members nor to tribal corporations.

If you wish to report illegal dumping activity, call the EPA Criminal Investigation Office at (206) 553-8306. This office will pursue illegal dumpers but does not have an emergency response component to clean up the illegally dumped materials. The EPA Emergency Response Team, discussed above, would need to be contacted.

Response to a release of oil or hazardous substances that occurs on federally owned, non-Indian lands, such as Department of Defense (DoD) or Forest Service lands, is the responsibility of that federal agency. If the release leaves the property boundary or is not being adequately addressed by the responsible federal agency, EPA may get involved.

Website: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/action/process/sfproces.htm
Region 10 Contact: Chris Field at (206) 553-1674

Resources
  • Reimbursement to Tribes for Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases: EPA is authorized under Section 123 of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA - a part of CERCLA) to reimburse federally-recognized Indian tribes and local governments for expenses incurred in carrying out temporary emergency measures in response to hazardous substance threats. Temporary emergency measures may include such activities as erecting security fencing to limit access, responding to fires and explosions, and other actions that require immediate response at the tribal government or local level. (Be aware that petroleum is excluded from this provision. This includes petroleum, natural gas, crude oil, or any other specified fractions thereof that are not otherwise specifically designated as CERCLA hazardous substances.) CERCLA specifically limits reimbursement to $25,000 per single response. This $25,000 cap plus the limited availability of funds for the program may not allow EPA to reimburse tribal or local governments for all response costs that may qualify. An application package can be obtained by contacting the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at EPA Headquarters. The toll-free telephone number for the Hotline is 1-800-424-9346. The application package contains detailed, line-by-line instructions for completing the application. The Region 10 contact for this is Angie Zavala, who can be reached at (206) 553-2101.
  • Training: ECL can offer training, mostly centered around emergency response. Types of training include health and safety training, incident command system training, and other specialized technical training. Our ability to offer training may be subject to some limitations such as the availability of funds, when and where the training can be offered, minimum enrollment requirements, etc.


Emergency Response Planning and Spill Prevention Programs (Top)
Oil Pollution Act (OPA)(Top)
EPA enforces the oil spill liability and penalty provisions under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which provide incentives to facility owners/operators to take the necessary steps to prevent oil spills. OPA improved the nation's ability to prevent and respond to oil spills by establishing provisions that expand the federal government's ability, and provide the money and resources necessary, to respond to oil spills. The OPA also created the national Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is available to provide EPA or the U.S. Coast Guard up to one billion dollars per spill incident.

In addition, the OPA provided new requirements for contingency planning both by government and industry. The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) was expanded in a three-tiered approach: the Federal government is required to direct all public and private response efforts for certain types of spill events; Area Committees -- composed of federal, tribal, state, and local government officials -- must develop detailed, location-specific Area Contingency Plans; and owners or operators of vessels and certain facilities that pose a serious threat to the environment must prepare their own facility response plans.

OPA also increased penalties for regulatory noncompliance, broadened the response and enforcement authorities of the Federal government, and preserved State authority to establish laws governing oil spill prevention and response.

OPA National Website
Region 10 contact: Beth Sheldrake at (206) 553-0220



Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) Program (Top)
As a cornerstone of EPA's strategy to prevent oil spills from reaching our nation's waters, the Agency requires that certain facilities develop and implement oil spill prevention, control, and countermeasures, or SPCC Plans. Unlike oil spill contingency plans that typically address spill cleanup measures after a spill has occurred, SPCC plans ensure that facilities put in place containment and other countermeasures that would prevent oil spills from reaching surface waters. Under EPA's Oil Pollution Prevention regulation, facilities must detail and implement spill prevention and control measures in their SPCC Plans. Specific requirements for SPCC plans are described in the Code of Federal Regulations, at 40 CFR 112.

Each SPCC plan, while unique to the facility it covers, must include certain elements. To ensure that facilities comply with the spill prevention regulations, EPA periodically conducts on-site facility inspections. EPA also requires owners and operators of facilities that experience two or more oil spills within a 12-month period to submit their SPCC Plans and other information to EPA for review.

A copy of the entire SPCC Plan must be maintained at the facility if the facility is normally attended for at least eight hours per day. Otherwise, it must be kept at the nearest field office. The SPCC Plan must be available to EPA for on-site review and inspection during normal working hours.

SPCC National Website
Region 10 contact: Michael Sibley at (206) 553-1886


Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) (Top)
In 1986 Congress passed a law to help local communities, including Indian reservations, protect public health and safety and the environment from chemical hazards. This law, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, known as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), requires that detailed information about the nature of hazardous substances in or near reservations be made available to the public and that comprehensive emergency plans be prepared to deal with chemical accidents. The law also provides stiff penalties for companies that do not comply, and it allows citizens to file lawsuits against companies and local or tribal government agencies to force them to obey the law.

EPA published a rule-making in the Federal Register (July 26, 1990) designating Indian Tribes and their chief executive officers as the implementing authority for Title III on all Indian lands. EPA=s policy is to work with Tribes on a "government-to-government" basis. Unless Tribal leaders choose another of their various options to comply with Title III, EPA regards Federally recognized Tribal reservations as a Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC), with the same responsibilities as States for carrying out provisions of the law.

Resources
  • We can provide grants to assist Tribes in doing work necessary to comply with EPCRA. Our ability to provide these grants is subject to funding availability. We may also be able to provide technical assistance.

EPCRA National Website
Region 10 contact: Suzanne Powers at (360) 753-9475



Clean Air Act Section 112(r) (Top)
The Risk Management Program rule [also known as Clean Air Act Section 112(r)] is designed to prevent serious chemical accidents that could affect public health and the environment, and to improve the response to any accidents that do occur. The rule requires facilities that use more than threshold amounts of certain types of chemicals to implement a risk management program, and to have filed a Risk Management Plan (RMP) with EPA by June 21, 1999. In its RMP, a facility analyzes hazards, documents a five-year accident history, coordinates with local first responders, and puts a program in place to prevent chemical accidents.

Region 10 can provide information about complying with CAA Section 112(r); designing or submitting a Risk Management Plan; using the EPA's 112(r) website or downloading software from the website; and signing up for a training course, newsletter or presentation on 112(r).
Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule National Website
Region 10 Website
Region 10 Contact: Javier Morales at (206) 553-1255



Brownfields Program (Top)
Brownfields are properties that are abandoned or underused because of environmental contamination from past industrial or commercial practices. Often the potential liability associated with contamination complicates business development, property transactions or expansion on the property. The purpose of the Brownfields program is to return these sites to productive use. It's designed to empower Tribes, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. Brownfields strategies include funding pilot programs and other research efforts, clarifying liability issues, entering into partnerships, conducting outreach activities, developing job training programs, and addressing environmental justice concerns.

Resources
  • Brownfields Assessment Pilots: Tribes that apply and are selected as a Brownfields Assessment Pilot can receive up to $200,000 to use for site assessment.
  • Job Training Pilots: Tribes can receive up to $200,000 for a job training pilot related to Brownfields.
  • Revolving Loan Fund Pilots for Cleanup: Tribes can receive up to $500,000 to make loans to accomplish cleanup. In order to qualify for revolving loan funds, a Tribe must first have been a Brownfield Assessment Pilot, or have completed a Targeted Brownfield Assessment
  • Targeted Brownfield Assessment: An EPA (or in some cases State) contractor comes out to the tribal site and assesses the property(ies), provides results to the Tribe. The site does not have to be an NPL site to be eligible for this type of assessment, but there are some restrictions on the types of sites that can be assessed.
  • Technical Assistance: helping connect Tribes with available assistance programs or resources (e.g, HUD money, State money).
National Website
Region 10 Website
Region 10 Contact: Timothy Brincefield at (206) 553-2100


Tribal Connections(Top)
Waste Management in Tribal Country
The Spokane Tribe's website Exit EPA Disclaimer
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government



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