March 21, 2013

Waste site opposed

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Waste site opposed

By STU MERRY
Their voices rang loud and clear throughout the Ralph Wells Memorial Complex: “Get the hell out.”
White Shield residents said they have had enough of being lied to – believing initially a well site was coming to the White Shield area, when in reality an oil and gas waste pit was being developed.
Tuesday night, those residents wanted answers, not more betrayal. The target of their anger was Marvin Danks, project coordinator for the waste site project. But others who dared step to the podium were also scrutinized for their actions in the solid waste pit project. Speakers included TAT Acting Environmental Director Edmund Baker; Jeff Hunt, BIA official, and Fred Fox, White Shield Segment representative and TAT Natural Resource Committee chairperson.
Baker laid out a time-frame of how things transpired. He said he heard of the solid waste project near White Shield in late 2012 from Danks. But steps were skipped in the permitting process.
Baker said a public notice should have been printed and a public hearing held before a permit could be issued. However, construction began prior to receipt of a permit. The application process should have included coming before the full tribal business council as well.
Baker, the third TAT environmental director in a year, admitted a project of this magnitude required heavy oversight.
“It’s happening so fast, this oil … that we are struggling to keep up,” Baker admitted. “I am doing everything I can to follow the book, doing the best we can with the staff we have.”
The audience cornered Baker, asking him why Danks should be trusted. One concern is that groundwater would be contaminated and nature overturned.
Dolores White was visibly upset by what is taking place on what she called hallowed tribal ground.
“The wild berries are gone, the birds are gone, the sage … how are you going to bring that back?” she asked.
“This is our community we are not going to stand for your ways,” she added, as the room filled with applause.
Danks answered saying; “We will try our best to rectify what has been done.”
That did not satisfy those at the meeting. The cry went up: “We don’t want this in White Shield.”
 


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