Environment | Opinion

Nathan Small: Shoshone-Bannock Tribes battle toxic giant

"A few years ago, USA Today did a two-page article about the problems faced by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in their battle to clean up a Superfund plant on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho (USA Today, “Tribes fight toxic giant,” June 3, 1998). I am sorry to say the saga continues. This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed rules that would let the company, FMC Corporation, bury its industrial poisons on site.

One of the areas at risk from the poisons is “the bottoms.” It’s low-land creeks and marshes that feed into Idaho’s Snake River. It’s world-class fishing. It’s also home to Shoshone and Bannock people. Bands from our tribes have wintered there and been a part of this landscape for at least the last 10,000 years.

Ten thousand years.

I think of those three words and wonder what’s in store for the next 10,000 years. The EPA and FMC are proposing a scheme to cover up fifty years of waste. One of the toxic chemicals left behind is elemental phosphorus or P4, a material that remains poisonous for 10,000 years."

Get the Story:
Nathan Small: Still Fighting the Toxic Giant (Indian Country Today 10/17)

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