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EPA Awards $785K to Navajo Nation for Storage Tank Cleanup

If the underground storage tanks are not in compliance or upgraded, the tanks may leak into the ground water, surface water or surface or subsurface soil, causing harm to the public health and safety of the people and the environment. Photo credit: navajonationepa.org

If the underground storage tanks are not in compliance or upgraded, the tanks may leak into the ground water, surface water or surface or subsurface soil, causing harm to the public health and safety of the people and the environment. Photo credit: navajonationepa.org

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $465K to the Navajo Nation to oversee the cleanup of an estimated 58 leaking underground storage tanks that store petroleum or hazardous substances throughout the reservation. The agency is also providing $320,000 for compliance activities reservation-wide.

Over the next 5 years, the EPA anticipates awarding $3.8 million to the Navajo Nation for this work. This is the first time the agency has committed to funding these programs upfront for a multi-year period.

The cleanup funds will allow the Navajo Nation EPA to oversee the assessment and cleanup at 58 leaking underground storage tank sites in Tuba City, Shiprock, Lupton, Chinle, and several old abandoned trading posts across the Navajo Nation.  Underground storage tank owners and operators are responsible for their tanks and need to maintain them in good condition, but in the event of leaks, must pay for their cleanup

The compliance activities funds will be used to conduct tank inspections at approximately 100 Navajo facilities to ensure compliance with federal and tribal standards. These funds will also be used to provide training to operators to ensure there are no leaks from their tanks, and for staff to recognize and respond to release incidents.

Through the work of the underground storage tank program, the EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA have brought the compliance rate of underground tank operations to close to the national rate of 68 percent. EPA funding has also resulted in Navajo-specific regulations and petroleum cleanup standards which incorporate the Navajo philosophy of sacredness of the earth and all its resources.

The Navajo Nation Underground Storage Tank Act was passed by the Navajo Nation Council on October 29, 1998. The Act requires the removal of all underground storage tanks that do not comply with the standards.