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Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Tank Inspector Receives EPA Credentials For Reservation Ground Water Protection

Release Date: 04/05/2007
Contact Information: Mike Shepherd/EPA Seattle 206-553-0702 shepherd.mike@epa.gov Mark MacIntyre/EPA Seattle 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov


    (Pocatello, ID April 5, 2007) - Protecting ground water on the Fort Hall Reservation near Pocatello, Idaho, will be more efficient and effective under a new cooperative agreement between the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agreement, developed over the past three years, covers regulating and inspecting underground storage tanks(USTs) on the Fort Hall Reservation.

    This is the first time a tribe and the EPA have teamed up to give Federal Inspector credentials to a tribal employee in the underground storage tank program. Mr. Appeney, Land Use Director for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, states that the Tribes already perform extensive outreach and training to the agriculture industry and residents within the Fort Hall Reservation to improve groundwater protection and pollution prevention. The Tribes also assist and coordinate some emergency response petroleum cleanup actions and work with residents and businesses to cleanup old contaminated sites.

    According to James Werntz, EPA’s Idaho State Director in Boise, today’s announcement signals the next step forward for the Agency’s ground water protection partnership with the tribe.

    “We’re building on a successful partnership with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to protect ground water at Fort Hall,” said EPA’s Werntz. “Over the last three years, EPA and the Tribes have developed a close working relationship in preventing contamination and cleaning up tanks. This has been a very impressive year in Idaho for advancing ground water protection, because the Tribes, EPA, and the State of Idaho have all committed new resources to prevent pollution from USTs."

    Under today’s agreement, Mr. Kelly Wright, a qualified and experienced tank inspector for the Tribes, would be issued federal inspector credentials to conduct inspections of underground storage tanks within the Fort Hall Reservation. This would mean the facilities on the Fort Hall Reservation will receive more frequent inspections, resulting in better protected ground water. Mr. Wright has earned certification through the Intertribal Council of Arizona Underground Storage Tank(UST) program, participated in EPA training and has also participated in many inspections as part of his EPA-supervised on-the-job training.

    Inspection responsibilities include an annual visit to each facility to check:
    • Release detection system
    • Timely tank maintenance
    • Confirmation of adequate insurance

    The inspector will not be issuing fines, but will provide inspection reports to EPA who will take enforcement action if necessary. Mr. Wright will be available to assist facilities in improving their operations and compliance.

    Underground storage tanks require regular monitoring and maintenance to ensure they do not release hazardous liquids to the ground and to groundwater. Gasoline filling stations routinely store large quantities of gasoline and diesel underground, as do farms for refueling farm equipment. Inspecting these facilities for proper operation and maintenance is an important component to a comprehensive ground water protection program.

    For further information about EPA's underground storage tank programs in Indian Country in the Northwest, please contact Mike Shepherd at 206-553-0702. To request assistance from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, please contact Kelly Wright at 208-478-3903.
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    The Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 website for underground storage tanks can be found at:

    www.epa.gov/r10earth/ust.htm
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