Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
NAVAJO, NEW MEXICO Environmental clean up will start Monday, August 26, on the buildings which once housed the Navajo logging and lumber industry. The former Navajo Forest Products Industry location is under Navajo Nation EPA control and listed as a Brownfield site.
“I want to get this cleaned up,”
said the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly while touring the former Forest Products site yesterday.
“It is unsafe and a hazard which has been here much too long. This is something I have wanted to do for years.”
The Navajo Nation EPA has conducted site inspections and environmental investigations to determine the extent of contamination. Soil samples and well monitoring to the groundwater are routinely conducted on the 70 acre site.
“By cleaning this site up, we're going to create jobs,”
said president Shelly.
“We want to hire workers from here, those who are familiar with the site.”
Preference will be given to residents from the Navajo community and the Red Lake chapter, as agreed by the construction contractor, Economic Development, and local chapter officials. The project is anticipated to take one year.
Accompanying the president on the site tour were Albert Damon, economic development director, and Stephen Etsitty, EPA director, and staff from the Navajo Nation EPA.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off green spaces and working lands.
The cleanup work will start with the deconstruction of the buildings in the northeast corner. The concrete will be crushed and turned into road base for road projects. The larger buildings along Navajo Route 12, will be the last to be deconstructed.
The Division of Economic Development will be proceeding with plans to redevelop the site with business and commercial use.
Navajo Forest Products Industry began in 1951, and was then the Wood Products Industry Enterprise. The operation originally began as a pilot plant to obtain cost analysis and profit margin, but as orders exceeded $43,000, the operation was well underway. It was shut down in the early 1990s as the industry changed, and over concerns raised by an environmental group of Navajo forests being a habitat of the endangered Mexican Spotted Owl.
posted August 23, 2013 6:30 am edt