Settlement with the Department of the Interior to Resolve Violations at DOI Schools in Indian Country
Settlement of Alleged Violations at BIE Schools
(Washington, DC - August 22, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) have reached an agreement to address alleged violations at schools and public water systems (PWSs) owned, operated, or otherwise the legal responsibility of DOI, Indian Affairs (IA). IA is comprised of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).
On this page:
- Violations Addressed
- Compliance Provisions
- Third Party Audits
- Environmental Management System
- Supplemental Environmental Project
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Expenditures
- Safe Drinking Water
- Stipulated Penalties
This action stems from EPA’s FY 2008-2010 National Indian Country Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Priority, under which EPA conducted inspections at BIE schools and reviewed federal data for BIA PWSs serving BIE schools. The inspections and data review that serve as the basis for this enforcement action were conducted from fiscal year 2005 through June 2008.
The settlement approach includes a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) and Federal Facility Compliance Agreement (FFCA) with settlement terms resolving all alleged violations.
The CAFO was approved by the EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) on August 18, 2011. EPA finalized the FFCA also on August 18, 2011.
The inspections identified several hundred alleged violations at approximately 72 schools under several environmental statutes, including the:
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
- Clean Air Act (CAA)
- Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
- Clean Water Act (CWA)
- Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
- Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
- Toxic Substances Control Act's (TSCA) PCBs
The PWS data review identified alleged violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) at 27 BIA PWSs that serve BIE schools. EPA did not identify any violations that appeared to pose an imminent and substantial endangerment, or threat of such endangerment, to human health or the environment.
All violations must be corrected within 90 days of approval of the CAFO by the U.S. EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), unless EPA approves a longer period. According to DOI many of the violations have already been corrected. Return to compliance must be certified by a senior level DOI official.
Independent, third-party environmental compliance audits will be conducted on a rolling three-year cycle at all BIE schools and BIA water systems which serve these schools. Violations uncovered during audits must be corrected within 90 days unless EPA approves a longer time frame. The first four years of audits will be conducted under EPA oversight.
A compliance focused, International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 14001 equivalent EMS will be implemented at BIE schools and BIA public water systems that serve schools by February 2013. (An EMS is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency.) A third party auditor will evaluate the EMS to ensure it complies with substantive requirements of ISO 14001.
A solar energy power system will be installed to serve a BIE school on the Havasupai Reservation in Arizona and will provide a more stable energy source for the school and community.
DOI has four years to expend $234,844 on AHERA compliance at IA schools.
The CAFO requires DOI to provide alternate drinking water for users of BIA Keams Canyon Water System until it fully complies with a separate EPA Region 9 Administrative Order, which will govern the longer-term compliance actions required at the facility.
Penalties may be assessed if DOI fails to comply with the terms of the settlement, including failure to correct violations found during the audits. In addition, substantial penalties may be assessed if senior level DOI official fails to certify compliance.
- Modification to paragraphs 341 and 342 regarding penalty amount
- Modification to paragraph 333 regarding documents and reports related to the Supplemental Environmental Project
- Modification to paragraph 372 regarding modifications to Appendices C and D
- Modification to Appendices C and D regarding changed school and water system names
Marie Muller, Attorney Advisor
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20460
Gracie Pendleton, Attorney Advisor
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20460