EPA signs clean-up compact with Colville Tribes

OMAK, Wash ? The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up and redevelop a former lumber mill recently acquired by the Tribes. Announced Feb. 4, the agreement between the EPA and the Colville Tribal Enterprises Corp. will hasten the cleanup at the former Quality Veneer and Lumber Inc. site in Omak, Wash and return the property to constructive use.

"We're working as equal partners to protect our families, clean up the environment and invest in a better economy," said John Iami, EPA's regional administration for Seattle, in a prepared statement. "We all benefit by giving this property the attention it needs so it can be put back into productive use."

In 1998, EPA ordered former owner QVL to remove hazardous waste from the property; QVL completed most of the required cleanup prior to its September 2000 bankruptcy filing. Last June, Colville Tribal Enterprises proposed a coordinated effort under EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, through which both parties would act as co-regulators at the site. Work under the agreement, which is effective immediately, is expected to begin by the spring of 2002.

The Tribes, who purchased the 386-acre property for $5.85 million in a bankruptcy sale, will rename the operation Colville Indian Power and Veneer.