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Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall (Idaho) Reservation


Controversy swirls around a proposed treatment system proposed at the Astaris phosphorous plant. Since 1994, waste ponds built have met the minimum technology requirements, but they sit next to and sometimes on top of older ponds that are unlined and leak toxins into the groundwater, said Susan Hanson, who handles Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act issues for the tribes. The ponds emit phospine and hydrogen cyanide - both deadly gases known to attack the nervous system - into the air. Astaris is a St. Louis-based joint venture of FMC Corp. and Solutia Inc. The system had proposed to incinerate waste and turn it into a non-hazardous solid. But Dec. 5, Dave Buttelman, health and safety environmental manager for Astaris, indicated a possible change of direction to an on-site landfill. Buttelman said, "the EPA has approved the facility and we're moving forward." Hanson said some rights-of-way from the plant to the Trail Creek site go through the reservation and will soon expire. The BIA will have to approve an extension. "If they think they are going to build a landfill, they will have to go through the tribal permitting process and the tribes do have a requirement for liners," Hanson said.