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Red Cliff Wants to Remove More Barrels From Lake Superior, Funding Unclear

Updated: 03/12/2014 10:49 PM
Created: 03/12/2014 9:36 PM WDIO.com

After pulling 25 barrels from Lake Superior and years of research, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says their preliminary data shows there is no immediate concern regarding water safety.

Red Cliff leaders, however, say they want to pull more barrels. At the same time, the project's funding is up in the air.

The Tribe is at a standstill with the federal agencies which provide funding. Days before the Tribe was to sign an agreement for the 2013 fiscal year, Melonee Montano, the Red Cliff Tribal Environmental Programs manager, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) came with changes.

For the past six years, Red Cliff has worked with the USACOE and their consulting firm EMR, Inc. on the Lake Superior barrel project. The Department of Defense funds the project through the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation program (NALEMP).

The USACOE changed names of documents, said Montano, and requirements.

"In some ways it means that the door is wide open and we can look for all sorts of things but it's just kind of a lot of unanswered questions at this point," said Montano.

Now the group is trying to understand what their documents and research needs to look like, while funding is unclear.

"We don't want to hold this document up any longer because we might not get funded for next year," said Gary DeFoe, Jr., the Red Cliff Tribal NALEMP Manager.  

The group says they also have unanswered questions concerning exactly what's in all of the barrels.

With over 1,400 barrels in the lake, DeFoe and Montano say 25 barrels is not a sufficient sample size. They want to remove more barrels, maybe removing them all.

"We did not put them there so we would like to see them all removed," said DeFoe. 

Montano said the Tribe will formally request consultation with the USACOE Thursday. She said no more barrels will be removed this year.

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