Disposal Site Controversy | VideoJennifer Joas | 3/20/2013
A small community on the reservation staunchly opposes a waste site. But, they have more than just environmental concerns. They say they feel wronged by their own people.
The room was filled with passion, yelling and clapping, as more than 200 White Shield community members expressed their concern over a oil field solid waste site.
"This is our community and we are going to stand up to you guys. We are not going to have your waste. We are not going to. You are going to kill us," said White Shield resident Delores White.
The waste site is located about 15 miles south of Parshall near Lake Sakakawea. It would take the drill cuttings, or rocks, that come out of the ground after an oil well is drilled. Community members are concerned that being so close to the lake. If a spill were to occur, it could have devastating impacts.
"We do not want somebody else`s garbage and toxicity and radioactivity dumped sited within the boundaries of our east segment here. We do not want that here. You put it on your land if it is so safe," said White Shield resident Jodie White.
But that is not all that has community members upset. The Tribal Natural Resources Committee approved the project without issuing a permit, doing any environmental assessment or collecting public comment. These actions have sparked a drive among Three Affiliated tribal members to stand up for their land.
"To have something like this by our own tribal leaders, that was where everyone said no. We are not going to go through this anymore. So I am really really happy that all the people stood up for what we live on and that we are here to protect what we have left," said tribal member advocate Doreen Lyons.
The various agencies involved are placing the blame on each other for not following proper procedure. Tribal Environmental Director Edmund Baker issued a cease and desist order pending the necessary approvals. He says the tribe is trying to deal with the oil field challenges like every other community in the state.
"I am doing the best job I can from the environmental division to try and handle every issue from filter socks being abandoned on the field, to illegal dumping, waste hauling dumping, to wells, to the diesel refinery. There is just a panorama of issues potential and actually occurring."
This is the first time the tribes have ever gathered public comment on a proposed project. The comment period ends May 8.
After the public outcry last night, the project owner says he plans to talk with his partners and is unsure what the site will become now.