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Blackfeet Asbestos, TCE and Lead-based Paint Project Site

Site Contact:
Curtis Kimbel


Site Location:
Browning, MT 59417

Between 2005 and 2012, the Blackfeet Tribe’s Environmental Protection Program completed environmental assessments and field inspections of approximately 12 – 15 buildings located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. In general, the buildings were determined to be unsecured, abandoned, structurally unsound and unsafe. Several of the buildings contained trash that was improperly disposed of or abandoned containers with unknown contents. According to the Blackfeet Tribe’s field inspections, a large number of homeless individuals live in the abandoned buildings due to the closure of the Blackfeet Reservation’s Medicine Bear Homeless Shelter, which contained friable asbestos, lead paint, Hantavirus, mold and methamphetamine manufacturing contamination. In addition to the homeless, children play in the abandoned buildings, tearing out insulation and further releasing debris into the environment. The Tribe hired Smart Consulting and Maxim Technologies to complete Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments for several of the properties. In addition, the Tribe hired Earthtech Environmental to perform pre-demolition asbestos surveys of several additional properties. Complete field inspection reports are in the administrative record.

In August 2012 the Blackfeet Tribe’s Environmental Protection Program requested that OSC Kimbel visit the reservation to view the abandoned buildings and review the field inspection reports. All the buildings in question are known to contain asbestos and, nearly all, also contain lead paint, mold and Hantavirus. One building is known to have TCE contamination which leaked from an abandoned underground tank. In November 2012 the Blackfeet Tribe formally requested assistance from the EPA Emergency Response Unit in demolishing the Medicine Bear Homeless Shelter and several additional abandoned buildings and properly disposing of the potential asbestos, lead, and TCE contaminated materials, abandoned trash, and unknown containers. Given the hazards present at the Site and the proximity to community residences and children, EPA will conduct a time-critical removal action at the Site utilizing EPA’s emergency response contractors.

The area is primarily residential and light commercial.

For additional information, visit the Pollution/Situation Report (Pol/Sitreps) section.