Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Receives Environmental Justice Grant

BARAGA, Mich. (WJMN) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) has been awarded $75,000 through the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program.

The grant will be used to provide support to identify legacy and current environmental pollutants in the community. In addition, an environmental risk assessment will be carried out and will allow the financing of material to disseminate the results of the project.

“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.”

The EPA says 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 and use them in ceremonies and other cultural practices.

The EPA notes that the area around the KBIC L’Anse reserve is currently subject to multiple stressors from industrial facilities, including a mixed-fuel power plant, 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.

The awarded grant will help facilitate the community’s ability to study the impacts created by these factors and educate community members about possible exposures and pollution risks. The information gained during the project could help develop future community guidelines, recommendations, research studies and program planning.

“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.”

You can learn more about the grant program here and see the full list of recipients here.

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