HUD Archives: News Releases

Lee Jones
(206) 220-5356 (work)
(804) 363-7018 (cell)
For Release
May 28, 2013

At least 13 homes, high school & middle school have unacceptable levels of uranium & radon in their water supply

SEATTLE - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a $450,000 "imminent threat" grant under the Indian Community Development Block Grant program to address contaminated water issues on the Spokane Indian Tribe's reservation in eastern Washington state.

The HUD funds will allow the Tribe to provide alternative sources of water to contaminated wells that serve at least 13 scattered-site homes as well as the main well that serves both the high school and middle school in Wellpinit. The existing wells have uranium and/or gross alpha particle radiation levels above the EPA standards and does not comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, a number of the residences, the schools and other public buildings have radon levels above EPA standards.

"There is no infrastructure as critical to the life of a community as its water supply," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride. "Addressing this contamination obviously is of the highest priority for the Tribe and its members and we are pleased to be of assistance to their efforts."

According to The Spokesman Review, uranium has been known to be in the area since it was first discovered at Spokane Mountain in 1954. Within a year, the Midnite Mine for sale to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The mine closed some 30 years ago.

The contamination has been confirmed by the EPA. The Tribe, its housing authority, the Wellpinit School District and the Indian Health Service do not have funds sufficient to address the contamination. The improvements to the wells and related water system will mitigate the contaminants in the existing water system/supply through accessing safe water supplies from alternative sources and filtering for certain remote residences.

Imminent threat grants can be provided to address threats that "represent a non-recurring, unique or unusual circumstance" and "no funds from other tribal or Federal sources are available to address the problem." Grants of up to $450,000 may be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis in most circumstances and may be up to $900,000 in Presidentially-declared disaster areas.

The ICDBG Program provides eligible grantees - Indian tribe, band, group, or nation (including Alaska Indians, Aleut, and Eskimos) or Alaska Native village which has established a relationship to the Federal government - with direct grants for use in developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities, primarily for low and moderate income persons. Most ICDBG funds are awarded in a national competition every year.


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Content Archived: July 23, 2015