BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM


Klag Bay: Tailings pile, abandoned mine facilities, distressed vegetation, and contaminated shellfish and sediment

In October 2015, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska received Section 128(a) funds from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a Tribal Response Program (TRP) to address brownfields in the traditional territory of the Sitka Tribe. Brownfields are sites where use or development is complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances. Examples of brownfields include illegal dumps, petroleum spills, structures with lead paint or asbestos, or mines.

STA’s TRP is focused on protecting and restoring subsistence resource habitat. STA will conduct site visits and collect data to better characterize and prioritize contaminated sites. The Sitka Tribe hopes to collaborate with Tribes, the US EPA, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Forest Service, the US Coast Guard, the University of Alaska, other public or private organizations, and individual citizens to make the Sitka area a better place for everyone.

Our current priorities are:
•    Protecting subsistence resource habitat from degradation
•    Testing traditional foods for contaminants
•    Building an inventory of potentially contaminated sites
•    Public outreach of what constitutes a brownfield
•    Investigating potential cleanup projects at Klag Bay and Starrigavan
•    Developing oil spill response capabilities with the Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization

Currently STA has prioritized two areas for cleanup. One is the Klag Bay mine, a traditionally important subsistence area that has been degraded due to arsenic and mercury in mine tailings. The other site is the polybutylene terphthalate- and lead-contaminated beach near the shipyard and shooting range at Starrigavan.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has a database of contaminated sites. There are 84 documented contaminated sites in the Sitka area. DEC’s database may be accessed here. DEC also has an interactive map here.

For more information, please contact Kyle Rosendale, Natural Resource Specialist, at 907-747-7241 or kyle.rosendale@sitkatribe-nsn.gov