Environmental Programs

General Assistance Program
Solid Waste Program
Brownfields Tribal Response Program
Superfund
Clean Air Program
Pesticides
Clean Water Program
Underground Storage Tank Program
Lead-Based Paint Certification Program
Lead-Based Paint Inspection/Risk Assessment
NEPA Environmental Record Review Program
ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
RADON

General Assistance Program

Information sharing and educational outreach efforts are primary components, which allow citizens and students the opportunity to learn about the environment. Under EPA’s Indian General Assistance Program (GAP), Environmental Programs continues to help with outreach efforts and assistance with infrastructure development for Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs. The multi-media staff has given presentations to help educate the Cherokee Nation communities regarding Environmental issues. In addition, Environmental Programs maintains an Environmental complaint system which investigates Environmental concerns raised by Cherokee citizens. The GAP program supports and seeks to protect the health of the Cherokee Nation community by safeguarding the environment through awareness and environmental program development.

Solid Waste Program

Proper solid waste management on or near tribal lands is a continuing concern for Cherokee Nation. To assist tribal members in developing solid waste management practices, Cherokee Nation developed the solid waste program in 1997. Since its inception, the program has addressed the problems of illegal open dumping of solid waste. An open dump inventory was developed to identify all open dumps within Cherokee Nation’s 14-county area. These dumps were assessed and prioritized for future cleanup activities. Cherokee Nation has completed cleanup of several sites and is working to secure funding for additional cleanup in the future. The program continues to seek alternatives such as recycling by providing information on environmental initiatives such as Earth Day and America Recycles Day. In addition, Cherokee Nation actively coordinates with local, state and federal entities to promote the importance of solid waste management practices.

Brownfields Tribal Response Program

The Brownfields Program was established to assist with the redevelopment of contaminated, perceived to be contaminated, or underutilized properties. These properties are often abandoned and left vacant due to the environmental liabilities associated with it. It is the EPA’s and the Office of Environmental Programs goal to return these properties into useable and productive assets.

Superfund

The Superfund Program is responsible for assessing the impact of abandoned hazardous waste sites on or near tribal lands, resources, and populations. Since its inception in 1991, the Cherokee Nation Superfund Program has evaluated 117 potentially hazardous waste sites within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdictional boundaries. These sites include solid waste dumps, landfills, and former industrial facilities. The Superfund Program also participates in the assessment of two sites–the former Tulsa Fuel and Manufacturing Company smelter site in Collinsville and Tar Creek–both sites are on the EPA’s National Priorities List. The program also provides technical training to environmental staff of the Cherokee Nation and other tribes.

Clean Air Program

The Cherokee Nation Clean Air Program consists of an array of air pollution monitoring devices sited on tribal land. There are currently five continuous ambient air monitoring stations monitoring for criteria pollutant emissions and meteorological data. These sites are located at Tahlequah (pictured), Stilwell, Pryor, Marble City, & Newkirk (Chilocco). Each station monitors for similar parameters which include: Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, Oxides of Nitrogen, Sulfur Dioxides, Particulate Matter (PM2.5& PM10) & meteorological parameters. The Cherokee Nation also operates several National Air Program projects in conjunction with Federal partners. The projects include the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNet), Inter-Agency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE), Mercury Deposition Network (MDN), and special studies for ambient levels of hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) and ammonia. The CASTNet monitoring program (pictured above) located at the Dahlonegah School in Stilwell evaluates rural ozone; aerosol sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium; gasphase nitric acid and sulfur dioxide; and meteorological variables.

Clean Water Program

The Clean Water Program has completed baseline assessments for beneficial use determinations for nine streams (Barren Fork, Caney, Flint, Little Lee, Fourteen Mile, Sallisaw, Saline, Spring, and Spavinaw Creek) since it inception in 2002. A baseline assessment will be completed this year on Lake Hudson. The Clean Water Program will also be conducting a bacteriological and phosphorus study this year on Flint Creek. Presentations and sampling demonstrations have been taught at Sequoyah High School’s Environmental Class. Future plans are to consistently increase the baseline assessment monitoring program, to complete special monitoring projects where necessary as determined by baseline monitoring, to steadily increase our laboratory capabilities and to increase our outreach to the local schools.


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Underground Storage Tank Program

In 1988, the USEPA enacted the Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations to protect the nation’s groundwater supply from being contaminated by petroleum storage tanks. This contamination can infiltrate our drinking water wells and cause various health effects from cancer to liver problems. Also, the cost of cleanup from these gasoline leaks can reach up into the millions of dollars not to mention the possible lawsuits and fines. In 1996, the Cherokee Nation was awarded an UST grant to address UST problems on tribal lands. Since then, CNEP has been involved with tank upgrades of existing tanks to meet EPA requirements and the removal of old tanks that could pose a danger to the surrounding environment. CNEP personnel have performed educational outreach to station owners and have consulted UST owners on compliance issues. Currently, the CNEP has been recognized as one of the leaders in tribal UST compliance and continues to work with the EPA to develop new and innovative ways to make UST compliance issues easier to resolve.

Lead-Based Paint Certification Program

The Cherokee Nation is one of only three tribes in the United States to have Treatment as a State (TAS) for its Lead-Based Paint (LBP) Certification Program. This TAS allows the Cherokee Nation to certify individuals as LBP Workers, Supervisors, Inspectors, Risk Assessors, and Project Designers. By having licensed certified professionals working on LBP issues, the Cherokee Nation is ensuring its children are being adequately protected from lead poisoning and its devastating effects.

Lead-Based Paint Inspection/Risk Assessment

Along with ensuring only certified and licensed professionals conduct LBP activities within the Cherokee Nation, the tribe also uses its own staff to conduct various LBP activities. The Cherokee Nation maintains a staff of 7 LBP Inspector/Risk Assessors to do this. In coordination with the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation (HACN), the CNEP conducts Inspections (which identify if there is LBP in a home and where it’s located) and Risk Assessments (which identify if and where LBP hazards occur).

NEPA Environmental Review Record Program

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 established a national policy addressing the effect of human activities on the natural environment, particularly the influences of population growth, resource exploitation, and urbanization, while also recognizing the vital importance of protecting and maintaining environmental quality. CNEP staff conducts formal environmental review records (ERR) to examine the potential negative or beneficial effects that are associated with activities such as rehabilitation, utility expansion, land acquisition, and new construction. These ERRs are conducted in accordance to NEPA as well as regulations established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Department of the Interior, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

When property is conveyed from one entity to another it’s always a good idea to have an ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment done. If there is residual contamination on the purchased property, the ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment allows an entity to claim the “Innocent Landowner’s Defense”. In conducting a Phase I assessment the environmental professional examines the history of the site and determines if there is cause to suspect a past release or threat of a release of a hazardous substance or petroleum product. The CNEP has done this service for other departments within the Cherokee Nation and for other tribes.

Radon

The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Elevated radon levels have been found in many areas of the Cherokee Nation Jurisdictional Area. Because of this, the CNEP has developed a program to sample indoor air for radon. 


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