"Land Management, Restoration and Emergency Response: The LTBB Brownfields Program"
What is a Brownfield?
The Environmental Protection Agency defines a "brownfield site" as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant
Recognizing a Brownfield
- Contaminated properties affect nearly every town. Small and rural communities are impacted not only by former industrial sites, but also by closed gas stations, dry cleaners, old dumps, mine-scarred lands, and agricultural waste.
Underground Storage tanks
- Underground storage tanks (UST’s) are used to store petroleum and other hazardous substances. Abandoned UST’s may leak into groundwater and surrounding soil, causing health risks for humans and the environment.
Goals of the LTBB Program
- To provide public access to documents that the tribe uses to make decisions regarding purchase, clean up, or conducting site activities
- To give the public the opportunity to comment on cleanup plans and site activity.
- To provide a way for a potentially affected person or persons within the community to report concerns.
The Importance of Restoring the Environment
- Contaminants accumulate within a smaller organism and bio-magnify to a dangerous level once smaller organisms are consumed by larger ones, rendering the organism damaged and unusable.
For surface water & soil
- Before the Clean Water Act of 1972, factories were permitted to dump industrial waste directly into lakes and streams, with no prior treatment. As a result, many area streams and lakes became polluted with heavy metals and other hazardous waste. The pollutants attach to the individual sediment grains within the water and continue to contaminate over several decades.
- EPA reports show that groundwater supplies drinking water to approximately 50 percent of the nation's overall population and 99 percent of the population in rural areas. Individuals that use private wells may be at risk of being exposed to groundwater contamination caused by a nearby brownfield site. Many contaminants are odorless and tasteless, leaving the consumer unaware of their presence. Those who rely on groundwater should educate themselves about the surrounding area. Become aware of current or past nearby facilities to understand the risks of contamination to a specific private well.
Funded through a grant from the EPA’s 128a CERCLA program, the Four major elements of the LTBB Brownfields Program include:
1. Timely survey and inventory of Brownfields sites on tribally-owned or reservation land.
- EPA's goal in funding activities under this element is to enable the state or tribe to establish or enhance a system or process that will provide a reasonable estimate of the number, likely locations, and the general characteristics of Brownfields sites in their state or tribal lands
- EPA recognizes the varied scope of state and tribal response programs and will not require states and tribes to develop a “list” of Brownfields sites. However, at a minimum, the state or tribe should develop and/or maintain a system or process that can provide a reasonable estimate of the number, likely location, and general characteristics of Brownfields sites within their state or tribal lands.
2. Oversight and enforcement authorities or other mechanisms and resources.
EPA’s goal in funding activities under this element is to have state and tribal response programs that include oversight and enforcement authorities, or other mechanisms, and resources that are adequate to ensure that:
- A response action will protect human health and the environment and be conducted in accordance with applicable federal and state law; and the necessary response activities are completed if the person conducting the response activities fails to complete the necessary response activities (this includes operation and maintenance or long-term monitoring activities).
3. Mechanisms and resources to provide meaningful opportunities for public participation.
- EPA’s goal in funding activities under this element is to have states and tribes include in their response program mechanisms and resources for public participation, including, at a minimum:
- Public access to documents and related materials that a state, tribe, or party conducting the cleanup is relying on or developing in making cleanup decisions or conducting site activities; Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on cleanup plans and site activity; and a mechanism by which a person who is, or may be, affected by a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant at a Brownfields site—located in the community in which the person works or resides—may request that a site assessment be conducted. The appropriate state or tribal official must consider this request and appropriately respond.
To view a list of currently identified potential brownfield sites, please see the Public Record.
4. Mechanisms for approval of a cleanup plan and verification and certification that cleanup is complete.
- EPA’s goal in funding activities under this element is to have states and tribes include in their response program mechanisms to approve cleanup plans and to verify that response actions are complete, including a requirement for certification or similar documentation from the state, the tribe, or a licensed site professional to the person conducting the response action that the response action is complete. Written approval by a state or tribal response program official of a proposed cleanup plan is an example of an approval mechanism
How to Help your Community
There are several ways that Tribal Citizens can help our Tribal community. Do you have knowledge of historical sites that are now closed? For example, industrial sites, factories, gas stations, etc. Do you suspect that a site near your residence could be contaminated? Are you aware of older abandoned buildings within the reservation boundary?
If you suspect a brownfield within the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians’ reservation area, please contact the LTBB Environmental Services Program office.
For more information on the Environmental Services Program and the Brownfields Program at LTBB, visit the LTBB website at www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov and find us through the Natural Resources Program link or contact Traven Michaels, Environmental Response Specialist at 231-242-1573 or by email at TMichaels@LTBBODAWA-NSN.GOV.