The Spirit Lake Tribe Air Quality Program has been in operation since 2000. We work under a grant funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). We began this program with building of technical expertise to gain a better understanding of air pollution and how it can deteriorate air quality around the Nation. After gaining this information from trainings provided by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) we began an extensive research project known as an Emissions Inventory (EI) within the exterior boundaries of the Spirit Lake Nation. This was a very research-intensive project. We hired a very knowledgeable firm out of Golden, CO called Air Sciences Inc. to assist us with the EI. Once the framework was established as to the types of emissions/sources we could expect to find we began to conduct the EI.
This research project took approximately one year to complete. After which time we discovered that we had what is known as a “Major” source emitter within our boundaries. To make matters worse…we had no data on the facility or to what extent it could possibly be polluting the air shed. Having known this we could not, with good conscience, submit our data to the US EPA as a completed document. We then began to work very closely with the facility to gain knowledge of the source and use data obtained to re-evaluate the EI.
Here is what we discovered…
The Major Source is Sioux Mfg Corp. The types of emissions from this facility are known as Toxic Air Pollutants also known as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are those pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, even adverse environmental effects. US EPA has identified 188 toxics air pollutants. People exposed to toxic air pollutants at sufficient concentrations and durations may have an increased chance of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health effects. These health effects can include damage to the immune system, as well as neurological, reproductive (e.g., reduced fertility), developmental respiratory and other health problems. A “Major” source is described as a single stationary source, which emits more then 25 tons per/year of any single HAP. SMC emits 146 tons per/year of one known HAP. Methyl Ethyl Keytone (MEK) is the compound, which gives us greatest concern. This facility has the potential to emit 438 tons per/yr of MEK.
Now that we know and understand the problem what are we doing about it?
Spirit Lake EPA Air Quality begins Urban Air Toxics Monitoring Program (UATMP) with a grant from the US EPA we began to monitor the levels of HAPs from SMC in January of 2004. We were able to purchase two pieces of equipment. One known as a PUF sampler, which takes an ambient air sample and the other called an AT-2 or Air Toxics Series 2, which takes a gaseous sample. We currently sample on a 1 in 12 schedule. This means that every 12 days we run a collection sample. These samples are then sent to a laboratory in North Carolina for analysis. Spirit Lake EPA has entered into a contract with the Eastern Research Group (ERG) are the experts in the field of air toxics. They currently have a National Contract with the US EPA to assist states in their efforts to monitor and reduce emissions from Major sources in 12 states and one Tribe.
The data collected this year will aid the tribe to conduct what is known as a “Risk Assessment” to understand what effects we might expect from having a major source of this type within our boundaries. This risk assessment will help us make better decisions as to what type of control technologies we need to have in place at the plant to reduce the emissions and reduce the risk of any residents becoming ill or having adverse health effects from the emissions.
Spirit Lake EPA has also established our very on Meteorological Station in Fort Totten. This station was installed back in August of 2003. The station collects data for ambient air temperature, precipitation, barometric pressure, wind speeds and directions. We access this data via a modem and download data on a daily basis. This data is very invaluable to us as we use it to estimate the “flow rate” of the PUF sampler. We would like to have this data available on our website for current up-to-date weather for the residents of Spirit Lake.