Gila River: Victory to shut down hazardous waste facility

by June 21, 2007
 

Romic “Environmental” Technologies Corporation, has for years been running a waste management facility at Gila River (O'odtham Land). Leasing land from the Tribal Council, Romic had been trying to obtain a full permit for 18 years, unsuccessfully.

Throughout this time, Romic developed for itself an extensive history of legal violations and repeatedly put people's lives in danger---thanks no less to a disturbing 'care-free' attitude they held (which I must say , seems to be an industry standard. see above link).

Nevertheless, the Gila River Tribal Council proved yesterday that they do not. In a unanimous vote (14-0) the Tribal Council decided to reject the permit, which has effectively shut down the facility.

Of course Romic will just move somewhere else, but this is no less an important victory for the O'odtham, and it is one I hope other Tribal (Band) Councils will learn about...

All too often Tribal Councils endanger the lives of people and allow the land to be devastated in order to get money. And just as much, the voices of the people are suppressed and ignored so business interests can be advanced.

This is something that must change, otherwise, as we can see from the example being pushed forward around North America, a Nation will end up with no People and no Land. It seems as though so few Band Councils act outside of this -- ensuring the people and the land (the basis of a Nation) come first.

The recent actions of the Gila River Tribal Council however, is one such example... and it is one that came as a result of respect, and through the diligence of the People to ensure their own health and safety, as well and that of the land.

From Censored - In an enormous victory for the Gila River Indian Community and the tribal member group Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE), Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Youth United for Community Action and other allies, the Gila River Tribal Council this morning voted unanimously 14-0 to reject the proposed US EPA permit for the Romic hazardous waste plant that had operated for decades without proper permits and with a reckless track record on tribal lands.

Tribal members, with the support of Greenaction and YUCA, educated the tribal council and community and today the tribal council took a historic stand to protect tribal members, tribal lands and their neighbors.

We will now demand US EPA immediately respect this decision, and the law, and deny Romic’s permit. Tribal members and Greenaction will then work to shut down any remaining parts of Romic’s operations at Gila River. Here is the first wire service story on the vote!

-Bradley Angel, Greenaction

Gila River votes to shut down waste facility

Betty Beard, The Arizona Republic

An industrial waste recycling plant on the Gila River Reservation near Chandler may have to close its waste processing services, forcing an estimated 800 customers to start shipping their wastes out of state.

The Gila River Indian Community on Wednesday refused to approve the company's permanent permit, apparently because of concern over several recent incidents and fines from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Romic Environmental Technologies Corp., a waste management company, says it is the only recycler of certain types of hazardous liquid wastes in the state. It has been operating in the Lone Butte Industrial Park on the reservation, southeast of Interstate 10 and the Santan Freeway, with an interim federal permit since 1988.

Because the Gila River community is its landlord, it needed its approval for continued operations. Rejection by the community's governing council means the company could remain open for months during appeals but that the plant likely will shut down at its current location. (read the full article)