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Alaska tribal village receives nearly $95,000 to reduce exposure to toxics

(Seattle - Nov. 4, 2010)  The Native Village of Eyak tribal members will have greater protection from toxic chemicals thanks to a nearly $95,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The tribe is located in the eastern Gulf of Alaska.

Eyak was awarded the Community Action for a Renewed Environment grant to help reduce exposure to environmental contamination. This grant will help create a healthier environment and a healthier population for the entire community of Cordova, Alaska, where most Eyak tribal members reside.

Some of the known environmental concerns include lingering oil contamination from the Exxon Valdez, stormwater pollution contamination, solid waste and open burning concerns.

Eyak is a unified group made up of many Alaska Native backgrounds. It is the largest tribe on the Copper River with approximately 525 members. The City of Cordova has an estimated population of 2,126 with Alaska Natives comprising about 15 percent.

"The CARE Program is intended to empower communities to protect themselves against environmental dangers," said Marcia Combes, EPA's Director of Alaska Operations in Anchorage. "Eyak has already begun identifying risks from toxic chemicals and this grant will help them take their work to the next level."

The CARE project will help the tribe:
  • Build relationships among community organizations and formalize partnerships
  • Identify pollution sources
  • Prioritize risks
  • Map hazardous sites
  • Educate the community about the contamination and pollution prevention measures
  • Create a sustainable community
With the grant, Eyak will devise methods to prevent additional contamination and decrease hazardous material usage through educating the community. The Eyak partnership is building on a 2008 partnership with the Cordova Electric Co-operative. The village has already begun forming partnerships with the City of Cordova, Cordova School District, Cordova Electric Co-operative, Copper River Watershed Project, and the Prince William Sound Science Center.

Since 2005, EPA has provided 77 CARE grants totaling $12.4 million to 69 communities nationwide facing disproportionate environmental hazards. In 2010, 14 grants have been selected for award totaling nearly $2.1 million. The common theme of CARE projects is helping community groups build collaborative partnerships at the local level between residents, businesses, organizations and local and state governments to tackle toxic threats.

For additional information about EPA's CARE program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/care/ For additional information about the Eyak Tribe, visit: http://www.nveyak.com/

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