Tribe Clarifies General Motors Issue

Aug 23, 2011

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council and the Tribal Environment Division take this opportunity to present some factual information regarding the GM landfill and issues associated with its disturbance last week. First, the past Tribal Councils and the current Tribal Council have never agreed to let the landfill stay there nor are they in favor of it. Since 1989-1990, when the decision was negotiated, the Tribe has always opposed the remedy of capping the dump and leaving it there. That was Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) decision. GM said there was no way they would move the dump and EPA could not legally force them to do that. The EPA agreed and has not tried to move it since.

Air monitoring equipment located directly on top of and around the landfill does not detect any toxic vapors evaporating through the clay cap. This air data is all on the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust’s website (

Also, there is no underground river under the dump. Soil borings and test wells all around that area show no underground river there. No poison cocktail is going into the community’s drinking water. This is verified by the water plant test data.

In 2006, the Tribe and NYSDEC had threatened to sue GM for the illegal dump and had persuaded GM to dig up the dump and put it in a secure onsite hazardous waste landfill. However some of the Raquette Point community members did not support this and the opportunity was lost.

The Tribe’s Environmental Division has made every attempt to decontaminate the backhoe used to dig up the landfill last week. Last week, the Environment Division sent a letter to the owners explaining what and why the backhoe needed to be properly decontaminated. That request has been refused and so have the daily requests since then. The owners have moved the vehicle from the land near the GM dump to a marina then to a warehouse on Ransom Road. Driving a contaminated vehicle through the community is irresponsible and puts the community at risk.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Environment Division understand the rightful concerns of community members in relation to contamination, but cannot condone illegal activity. Especially when that activity puts the community at risk. The SRMT is a good steward of the environment and strives to provide a safe and secure community.

For more information contact David T. Staddon, Director of Public Information at 518-358-2272, ext. 286.

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