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EPA proposes to add Makah Reservation Warmhouse Beach dump to federal Superfund cleanup list

Release Date: 05/21/2013
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-6689, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

(May 21, 2013 – Seattle) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add the Warmhouse Beach dump, on the Makah Reservation, in Neah Bay, Washington, to the Superfund National Priorities List. The proposed cleanup listing includes a public comment period from May 23 through July 23, 2013.

“Adding the Warmhouse Beach dump to EPA’s Superfund cleanup list will help protect the Makah Tribe’s treaty resources and the environment along the Strait of Juan de Fuca,” said Rick Albright, Director of EPA’s Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup in Seattle.

“The Makah Tribe welcomes EPA’s efforts to assist in the Tribe’s longstanding effort to clean up the Warmhouse Beach dump, our highest environmental priority,” said Timothy J. Greene, Chairman of the Makah Tribal Council. “We look forward to working collaboratively with EPA to finally addressing the serious environmental and health risks that the dump poses to our treaty resources and culturally significant areas.”

The Warmhouse Beach dump was a 7-acre municipal and hazardous waste dump used in the 1970s-1980s by the Makah Air Force Station and by tribal and non-tribal members until the dump was closed in 2012.

Contaminants found at the Warmhouse Beach dump and in nearby creeks include polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, perchlorate, metals, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, and dioxins. Mussels at the beaches also contain elevated concentrations of lead.

The Makah Tribe referred the Warmhouse Beach dump to EPA for Superfund cleanup based on concerns about harmful substances leaching from the dump to surface waters and the tribe’s traditionally significant shellfishing beaches.

Warmhouse Beach is an important natural and cultural resource for the Makah and they have used it as a traditional summer fishing camp and for subsistence harvest of sea urchins, mussels, and steamer clams. Warmhouse Beach is also used for camping, surfing, and other recreational activities.

EPA’s Superfund program investigates and cleans up complex and uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites to protect people’s health and the environment, with the ultimate goal of returning them to communities for productive use.

Information on the Warmhouse Beach dump: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/cleanup.nsf/sites/warmhouse