On March 12,2014, we had a public celebration-gathering to inform the community on the progress we have made thus far, also, the hurdles we have had to overcome. Here is our Position Statement that we delivered to the community:
Acknowledgment and deep appreciation goes to those who had originally brought the Lake Superior Barrels (NALEMP) project to light for us years ago and have since walked on: Walt Bresette, Jeanne Bufffalo, Leo LaFernier Sr, and Kathy Hanson. Respect and appreciation goes to those that have helped us be where we are today: Judy Pratt-Shelly, Laura Armagost, Red Cliff Tribal Council members past and present, and our contractor, EMR Inc., and Chad Abel. Special thanks also goes to those past committee past Tribal NALEMP committee members who paved the way for us: Anthony Gardner, Marion Duffy, and Chris Basina. As well, those existing Tribal NALEMP committee members that still tirelessly remain committed to the efforts today despite the endless struggles and hurdles: Larry Deragon, Mark Duffy, Carolyn Gouge, Jeff Benton, Pete Newago, and John Basina.
To the Staff behind the scenes who have showed a strong commitment every day to seeing this project through: Gary Defoe Jr., and Frank Koehn. This project would not be where it is today without these amazing folks.
Currently, based upon the 25 barrels we were able to successfully retrieve and analyze, we know there is no immediate cause for concern regarding the safety of water and fish consumption. However, the risk from the explosive components was not tested, nor do we feel we reached an adequate sample size. Throughout its history, the Red Cliff Tribal NALEMP project has experienced endless hurdles and bureaucratic battles such as multiple parties with jurisdiction, permit approval, determination of responsible parties, and federal laws such as EPA’s Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (CERCLA). Most recently, the tribe is facing poor communication with the federal agencies which provide funding. Direction and comments were given to the Red Cliff Tribal NALEMP staff through the Army Corps of Engineer (ACOE) NALEMP Program Manager regarding the following: to no longer follow the CERCLA process and a feasibility study will no longer be accepted or allowed by the (ACOE). Therefore, no further testing and/or clean up action alternatives are being written and made formal as part of a remedial investigation.
We are now at a standstill. The USACOE has now decided to rename the Remedial Investigation and this has negatively impacted the final ROD. These decisions have been made without consultation with the Red Cliff Tribe. The USACOE has now renamed the Remedial Investigation the “Investigative Report” and has renamed the ROD the “Final Results and Summary Report.” We are concerned that this will help alleviate any further liability by responsible parties and adversely affect our ability to require clean up if warranted.
Despite al of this, the Tribe will be seeking consultation regarding the next steps and these hurdles. It remains the mission of the Red Cliff Tribe to continue to fully characterize the type and extent of Department of Defense (DoD) wastes, which have impacts on the economy, natural resources, and cultural uses within Chippewa Ceded Territory and to determine if further remedial work is required to preserve the rich natural resources of Lake Superior.
Furthermore, the Red Cliff Tribe if committed to the restoration and protection of natural resources within the ceded territory, and remains dedicated to clean up, restore and protect the ecosystems of the ceded territory. The Red Cliff Tribe is also committed to ensuring that the US Government meets their Federal Trust Responsibilities associated with the lands and waters of the ceded territories. Our goal is to allow for the full use and enjoyment of the protected and ecological conditions supportive thereof, without restriction due to potential contamination.