EPA awards $75,000 grant to Keweenaw Bay Indian community to assess pollution

BARAGA, Mich. (WLUC) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday awarded $75,000 to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) under the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program.

The funding will provide support to identify past and present environmental pollutants in the community, conduct an environmental risk assessment, and develop materials to disseminate project results.

“EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program helps tribal nations better understand the possible health risks associated with environmental contamination,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “This funding helps these communities take action to ensure people are protected from environmental hazards and potential health risks.”

Environmental pollution that harms water quality can pose higher risks to tribal nations like KBIC, who harvest significant amounts of native fish species to feed their families, as well as for use in ceremonies. and other cultural practices. The area around the KBIC L’Anse reserve is subject to multiple stressors from current industrial facilities, such as a mixed-fuel power station, and legacy pollutants. Pollution inherited from past copper mining operations has left contaminated by-products which include heavy metals such as mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, phthalates, coal tars, nitrates and carbon compounds. ammonia.

“This EPA EJ funding opportunity will help KBIC complete a health risk assessment focused on environmental contaminants,” said KBIC President Kim Klopstein. “This study will analyze the impacts of risk values ​​set for the general population that do not reflect our tribal lifestyles and members who depend on the environment to hunt, fish and gather.”

The EJSG project will help build capacity to understand these impacts and educate community members about possible pollution exposures and risks. The information generated during the project could help develop future community guidelines, recommendations, research studies and program planning.

The EJSG program provides funding directly to community organizations and tribes for projects that help residents of underserved communities understand and address local environmental and public health issues. The term “underserved community” refers to a community with environmental justice issues or vulnerable populations, including people of color, low-income, rural, tribal, indigenous, and homeless. The long-term goals of the program are to support communities in their efforts to build overall capacity and create empowered community partnerships that will improve local environments in the future.

Learn more about the EJSG program.

View the full list of EJSG program beneficiaries.

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