The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Environment & Natural Resource Department, Director, David Nelson along with Elizabeth Bird from Montana State University and Matt Langenfeld, Region 8 EPA began working on this project last October 2007. The project started by working with the University and drafting a letter that was sent to all school administrators as to the scope of the overall project which we called the “School Chemical Clean-up Project”. The first thing that we conducted was the inventory in all the schools located on the reservation that responded to the initial letter. The task of doing the inventory was delegated to Robert Smith, Coordinator of the Tribal Brownfields Program to begin the inventory of the chemicals in the schools.
All the schools are located within the exterior boundaries of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. There were a total of five (5) schools that participated in the project and that had Chemistry Labs, that contained potential Hazardous Materials. One of the most positive things was the willingness of each school system willing to cooperate and participate in the Inventory and clean-up of the unwanted chemicals in each respective school. The Schools that participated were the Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School, Timber Lake School, Tiospaye Topa High School, Dupree High School, Takini High School. Mr. Smith’s assistance in the project was approved by the Brownfields Program Staff in Region 8 EPA, as was the participation of the General Assistance Program by Region 8 TAP Staff.
The assistance from Montana State University in conducting the Inventory and Clean-up of Hazardous chemicals was greatly appreciated. In the process of inventorying and working to dispose of the chemicals we came upon a road block. The funding that we all thought was secured to dispose of the chemicals after they were inventoried and packaged was lost and we only had the funding the University had available to inventory and package the chemicals. With that in mind we all agreed to continue in the process and remove all hazardous chemicals from the class rooms.
A Firm was hired by the Montana State University as they were the grantee to do the packaging portion. The firm’s name was Mountain States Environmental Service a Solutions for Waste Disposal and Transportation Co., located in Billings, MT. The owner Brad Fimrite sent his Field agent to the reservation to do the packaging, Ms Letty Swagger. The packaging of the chemicals took approximately a week and Ms. Swagger was assisted by Robert Smith, Brownfields Coordinator.
Then came the issue of disposal which without funding is difficult to do, however with all parties working together Brownfields Staff, Region 8 TAP Program Staff, BIA and other Federal Agencies, and Mr. Langenfeld , Chemical Initiative Coordinator / Pollution Prevention& Toxic Unit EPA Region 8, Mr. Langenfeld put a lot of hard work into finding a solution to our problem, he found a company that would dispose of All the Hazardous Chemicals Pro-Bono (free). The Company was Pollution Control Industries located in the State of Indiana. The contact person for their Company was Ms. Teda La Grimas who is the owner of the company. The staff for that arrived for disposal arrived on November 12, 2008. Mr. Smith worked with them to pick-up and secure the chemicals, the company hauled off the chemicals to their certified disposal location.
The Project was a huge success. A Big Thank You is extended out to Mr Langenfeld, Ms Bird and Mr. Smith and all others who assisted in making this project happen. There were approximately 150-200 chemicals inventoried, packaged and removed from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation School Systems.