Wood treatment plant cleanup moves forward

Project slated to cost $3 million

— The Colville Business Council has approved funding for cleaning up the Inchelium Wood Treatment Plant.

The cleanup will take around $3 million, the tribe said. Work is expected to take 18 months.

“This has been one of my top priorities as a council member,” Councilman Allen Hammond said. “I want to ensure that the community of Inchelium does not suffer from the contamination remaining at the site, and that we pass on a healthy and clean environment to future generations.”

“This has been long overdue, and I am glad we are taking responsibility to clean up the site,” council Chairman and Inchelium Councilman Michael Finley said.

In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final order to the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corp. (now Colville Tribal Federal Corp.) over contamination found at the facility.

As part of the settlement, cleanup was ordered for all areas of the facility that were contaminated with the treatment preservative chromated copper arsenate, a listed hazardous waste. The preservative’s hazardous and toxic constituents are chromium, copper and arsenic.

At the time, EPA officials said there was no penalty associated with the order.

An EPA inspection of the post and pole facility Oct. 24, 2005, found several alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act:

• Storage and disposal of hazardous waste without a permit.

• Wood treatment preservative was allowed to run onto surrounding soil.

• Hazardous waste was stored more than 90 days.

• Failure to comply with health and safety training requirements.

Through what the tribe called “an innovative financing package,” the cleanup will be self-financed, meaning that the tribe will avoid paying interest to external lenders. Details were not released.

“The clean up of the Inchelium Wood Treatment Plant is not only beneficial for the environment, it is an opportunity to exercise financial sovereignty and is an efficient use of tribal dollars,” Management and Budget Committee Chairman Billy Nicholson said.

The cleanup will be overseen by the tribal Environmental Trust Department, and will be focused primarily on removal of contaminated soil and ground water monitoring.

The plant opened in 1985 and ceased operations in early 2006.

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