San Carlos Apache Tribe receives funding to address contaminated environmental sites

By: - February 1, 2023 4:00 am
100 US dollars. Macro photo of banknotes of money in the US currency one hundred dollars.

Money for the San Carlos Apache Tribe to clean up brownfield sites will be disbursed by the EPA. (Getty Images)

The San Carlos Apache Tribe is set to receive more than $166,000 in funding to help it address contaminated brownfield sites that threaten environmental and public health of the tribe.

The funding comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs law passed last year, and was inserted into the legislation by Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly.

“This investment will not only help us clean up contaminated land and protect the health of tribal members, it will also create development opportunities for economic growth,” Kelly said in a statement from his office.

EPA devotes some federal cleanup funds to two toxic sites in NM

The number of brownfields the San Carlos Apache Tribe will address was not included in the funding announcement from Kelly and Sinema. A brownfield is a site that may have the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The tribe will use the funding to conduct a timely survey and inventory of brownfield sites to ensure the response actions protect human health and the environment, according to officials. They will also work to provide meaningful public involvement, mechanisms for cleanup plans, and verification of complete responses..

The funding ensures the San Carlos Apache Tribe has the resources necessary to clean up brownfield sites that stifle our environment, public health and economic growth, Sinema said in a written statement.

The money will be disbursed through the EPA, and sites must meet three qualities to be considered brown fields. The site has to be considered an underused commercial or industrial site, it must have redevelopment potential and that redevelopment potential needs to be complicated by known or perceived contamination from a hazardous substance.

It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S, according to the EPA, and investing in the clean up of these sites both improves and protects the environment.

In 2021, the San Carlos Apache Tribe used a state-level brownfield grant to remove an asbestos-filled building at the Cutter Airport to prepare the site for expansion and growth.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: [email protected]. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Shondiin Silversmith, AZ Mirror
Shondiin Silversmith, AZ Mirror

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.