Aug 24, 2011

Tribal Schools in Arizona to Improve Environmental Management

EPA settles with the Department of the Interior over water violations, benefiting more than 40,000 students nationwide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a comprehensive settlement with the Department of the Interior (DOI) to address alleged violations of waste and water, promoting right-to-know laws at schools and public water systems in Indian Country owned or operated by DOI’s Indian Affairs Office.

More than 50 tribal schools in Arizona and 31 New Mexico and Navajo territories are impacted. The settlement will protect student and community health in Indian Country, reducing potential exposure to environmental hazards.

The settlement will correct all of DOI’s alleged violations at 72 schools and 27 water systems nationally. DOI will implement an environmental compliance auditing program and an environmental management system (EMS), designed to improve environmental practices at all of its Indian Country schools and public water systems serving these schools.

DOI has also agreed to install a solar energy system, which will serve a school located in the Grand Canyon. The solar energy project will help ensure a more reliable source of electricity for the school and local community. DOI will also pay a civil penalty of $234,844, which it must spend to correct violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) at its schools.

EPA conducted compliance inspections and data reviews at more than 100 DOI schools and public water systems. The settlement addresses all alleged violations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act’s PCB provisions and AHERA.