PFAS on Tribal Lands: Part 1
From ITEP Team
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This presentation was delivered as part of the Tribal Lands and Environment Forum: Virtual Gathering in August 2021 by Summer King with the Quapaw Nation, Kaylene Ritter with Abt Associates, Lakesha Hawkins with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Zach Welcker with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are emerging contaminants that are being found with alarming frequency in drinking water and other environmental media around the country. A growing body of evidence shows that PFAS can pose risks to human health and the environment. However, regulatory standards to address risks related to PFAS exposure are lagging. As Tribes encounter PFAS, the uncertain regulatory landscape and rapidly evolving science present challenges with regards to how best to protect their communities from PFAS contamination. In this session we will provide a brief overview of PFAS followed by a panel of Tribal presenters who will share their respective experiences dealing with the emerging issue of PFAS contamination on Tribal lands. Presenters include Lakesha Hawkins (Choctaw Nation), who will present on their experience seeking funding for and preparing the needed plans to initiate PFAS sampling; Zach Welcker (Kalispel Tribe of Indians), who will discuss their experience dealing with PFAS contamination in the drinking water of their casino, due to the use of aqueous film forming foam at the Fairchild Air Force Base, and how the Tribe is now part of a large, multidistrict litigation (MDL), seeking damages caused by the PFAS contamination; and Page Hingst (Santee Sioux Nation), who will introduce the Tribal PFAS Workgroup and talk about their goals and objectives including what support they can provide to Tribes dealing with PFAS issues. This is Part 1 of a two part session.