Eight tribal members were briefed on advancements in the Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP) mission at the Radioactive Waste Management Complex, Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center, Idaho CERCLA Disposal Facility and Integrated Waste Treatment Unit. CERCLA stands for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
Environmental Restoration Program employees with EM contactor Idaho Environmental Coalition also took the group to two sites where CERCLA cleanup is complete and institutional controls are in place to protect people and the environment for long-term stewardship.
In turn, the tribal members shared with EM employees the importance of protecting cultural resource sites within the 890-square-mile laboratory site in eastern Idaho. Ancestors of the tribes frequently traveled across what is now the INL Site, located on the Arco Desert, from the original Fort Hall area near present-day Pocatello, Idaho, to fishing and hunting grounds near Salmon, Idaho. Thousands of artifacts, including arrowheads, pottery and ceremonial items, have been identified since the INL Site was established in 1949.
Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) Cultural Resources Specialist Jeremias Pink also participated in the tour. BEA has identified thousands of potential cultural resource sites catalogued with the use of GPS technology. DOE Office of Nuclear Energy contractor BEA manages INL.
One of the former cleanup areas at the INL Site, within the Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex, is particularly rich with cultural resources. Pink identified such sites to the group during the tour. Sho-Ban Tribes representatives expressed interest in identifying the sites with either Shoshone or Bannock names.
Shelby Goodwin, EM CERCLA program manager, said she was pleased with the tour and its intent.
“We had a productive discussion of the facilities and the current institutional controls and operations and maintenance for ICP’s long-term stewardship,” Goodwin said. “We also had a good dialogue on cultural resources and how the protection of those areas will tie into the Sho-Ban Tribes’ long-term stewardship program. It was a great learning experience for both of us."
Goodwin said she supports renaming sites that are culturally significant to the tribes.
“It’s preserving their culture and it’s necessary,” she said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Goodwin said the tribes and ICP will continue to work together to develop the Sho-Ban Tribes’ long-term stewardship program.
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