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Quapaw Tribe Receives EPA Grant To Help Keep Air Safe - KOAM TV 7

Quapaw Tribe Receives EPA Grant To Help Keep Air Safe

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New monitoring equipment will give a lot of area families more precise information on air quality. We've long known that materials in chat piles can be a health hazard -- especially to kids. Now the Quapaw Nation has learned it'll get $270,234 from the EPA to update its air quality monitoring system. It's one of four tribes getting federal funding for that purpose.

For over ten years the Quapaw Tribe has monitored the air quality of Northeastern Oklahoma for the Environmental Protection Agency. With the Tar Creek Superfund Site on the Tribe's land it's Environmental Director says monitoring levels of things like lead, dust and nitrous oxide in the air is important.

"The tribe wants to end up with an area that's cleaned up and useful for some kind of use that the tribe can use it for," said Quapaw's Environmental Director Tim Kent.
 
And Kent says the money will enable the tribe to get better and newer equipment.

"This is a pretty new industry, and they are coming up with new equipment all of the time. So the monitoring equipment we had was outdated, so we're getting new monitoring equipment," Kent said.

The Tribe's Assistant Environmental Director, Craig Kreman, showed us around one of the three sites, this one located at the Industrial Park in Quapaw. This system monitors ozone levels in the area, in addition to toxins from the chat piles to the north.

"As I see it, as that chat pile is still sitting there, the people in this area...there should be some concern, as that wind blows there has been recorded high levels of lead and cadmium and zinc," Kreman said.
 
The EPA can check on ozone levels here hourly, and zinc levels about once every six days. Information is then shared with the public through a website called airnow.gov. And being down wind from not just chat piles, but coal burning plants as well, Kent says this area is vital to monitoring air.

"We do let people know when the dust levels are getting elevated and they need to take special precautions and in some cases we've stopped them from working in areas where it's just too unhealthy," Kent said.
 
Kent says the Tribe will continue to monitor not just area air, but water and soil samples for contaminants to make sure the land is safe for the surrounding families, and to keep the public informed.  

Three other tribes also received funds from the EPA to keep air control in check. The Cherokee nation reviewed $437,785; The Delaware Nation, $68,794; and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, $70,284.


For a link to air quality across the nation click here. For a link to the Quapaw Nation's website click here.

 

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