Thursday, December 11, 2008

EPA Destroying Cultural Artifacts?

Not satisfied with the near destruction of its research library system, it seems that the EPA is on course to do the same with priceless cultural artifacts.  Required site surveys are being ignored at toxic cleanup sites.

PEER link

Washington, DC -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is needlessly destroying irreplaceable artifacts at hundreds of toxic clean-up sites across the country, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) with the EPA Office of Inspector General. The complaint details how EPA and its contractors routinely shrug off required site surveys before they begin to blast or excavate, destroying significant historic and prehistoric cultural resources in the process.

The PEER complaint focuses on cleanup of a former mine site at the Elem colony reservation in Northern California in 2006.  The work was done without a survey despite a complaint from tribal officials.  It is estimated that $50 million in artifacts were lost.

The complaint is here. (pdf file)

There was apparently nothing unusually urgent at Elem that required immediate action without first meeting the requirements of the National Historic Preservation act, and waiting for an appropriate survey to be completed.  PEER believes this to be far from an isolated matter, with similar events in places as diverse as Oklahoma and Saipan.  In some cases, as at Elem, human remains have been disturbed.

"We believe that what EPA did in California is not an isolated incident but is part of a pattern that is taking place in hundreds of locations across the country," Draper added. "EPA digs first and does not even bother to ask questions later."

PEER is seeking a review of EPA Superfund operations and potential compensation for the losses.

More including contact information can be found here.



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