Tribal Waste Sites – Open Dumps, Transfer Stations, Landfills | Region 10 | US EPA

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Tribal Waste Sites – Open Dumps, Transfer Stations, Landfills

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Laws and Regulations – Overview

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) established a comprehensive federal program to regulate solid wastes. EPA created a RCRA Tribal Solid and Hazardous Waste Program to work with tribes to build safe waste management systems. This program focuses on technical assistance, training and grants to tribes. In addition, EPA works with tribes to help build stakeholder partnerships to solve waste problems.

RCRA defines Tribes as “Municipalities.” As a result, the courts have ruled that EPA cannot approve tribal solid waste programs - Backcounrty Against Dumps vs. EPA (PDF) (11 pp, 55K). This does not prevent a tribe from using its own sovereignty to develop a solid waste program providing that the standards are at least equal to or exceed the minimal federal standards found in 40 CFR parts 257 and 258.

Tribes are, at minimum, responsible for implementing and enforcing the solid waste regulations outlined in 40 CFR part 257 and 40 CFR part 258.

The Alaska Solid Waste Program permits solid waste facilities, including different classes of municipal solid waste landfills. The Alaska requirements can be found at the
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation web site.

On this page:

Alaska Assessment Tools

Tools to help Alaska Native Villages make improvements in waste practices and safety.

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Clean Up and Prevent Dumps

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Open Dumps
EPA relies on a partnership with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to rank the relative risk of open dumpsites and prioritize them for closure. We work closely with BIA to enforce against the operators of specific sites when necessary.

Tribes can develop codes and ordinances against open dumping and enforce them. Solid waste codes are a formal legal method of promoting or preventing behaviors. For example, one might develop a code to promote recycling and another to prevent illegal dumping. Code development is the first step in developing a solid waste regulatory program.

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Tools for Dump Assessments

Indian Health Service ranks the relative risk of open dump sites and works with tribes to rank dump closure projects along with drinking water and wastewater projects. In 1998, Indian Health Service created the first inventory of tribal open dumps, as directed by Congress in the Indian Lands Open Dump Cleanup Act of 1994. Indian Health Service and EPA recently worked with tribes to update the inventory in 2009. The total tops 3000 dumps nationally.

The Indian Health Service web-based Sanitation Tracking System lists sanitation deficiencies and their priority. Click on the map where you live, then click on “Public Access”, and click, “Public Access One-Line Listing” to see a list of projects.

Use the Open Dump Form (PDF) (2 pp, 24K) and Open Dump Guide (PDF) (14 pp, 46K) to characterize an open dump. EPA and Indian Health Service also use this form. Fill it out and send to a Region 10 Tribal Solid and Hazardous Waste Team member (link to contact list) to have the dump site entered into the inventory of tribal open dumps.

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Transfer Stations

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Waste Minimization, Recycling and Composting

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