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EPA honors North Dakotans for environmental achievements

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6331,

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6401,

Release Date: 6/6/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6780

      Denver -- Twelve North Dakotans and the director of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa’s
environmental programs were recognized today for their contributions to the environment in the annual EPA awards ceremony in Denver.

Environmental Achievement awards went to:
The City of Fargo, Mayor Bruce Furness and City Coordinator Pat Zavoral for strategic investment in pollution prevention and solid waste management programs in the city. Nominated by state recycling coordinator Robert J. Tubbs, Zavoral was credited as the force behind Fargo innovations including a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, the state’s first composting program, first household hazardous waste facility and a multicounty program to reduce toxic wastes. Fargo’s Director of Sanitation Bruce Grubb and Recycling Coordinator Mary Chamberlain were also recognized for waste management and recycling improvements.

The Hazardous Waste Program of the North Dakota Department of Health, including Curtis Erickson, Christine Roob, Conrad Carlson, Steve Herda and Robert Disney, for being the first state in the Nation to achieve key national goals in the managing of hazardous wastes.

In 1993, Congress passed the Government Performance and Results Act, calling for specific accomplishments across a host of programs. In hazardous wastes, goals included having permits issued to all regulated hazardous waste units. North Dakota is one of only five states to do so. A second goal was to assure that people weren’t being exposed to hazards at 95 percent of waste facilities and migration of wastes in groundwater was controlled at 70 percent of facilities by 2005. North Dakota has met those goals already.

Gary W. Berreth and his team for running the State’s underground storage tank program, one of the first three in the nation to receive full authorization from EPA. The State program enjoys outstanding compliance and has assisted with tank programs on tribal lands. Berreth has worked closely with the North Dakota Insurance Dept. to stretch the Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Fund while still protecting the environnment. A team decision to have program “consultants” on hand during tank removals has saved tank owners or operators thousands of dollars, a boost for small businesses who could not afford consultants.

Rhonda L. Azure, Environmental Director for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas received the Frank DeCouteau Award for her ten years of service to the Tribe’s environmental programs. Azure is also one of three Region 8 tribal representatives on a 19-member National board that advises EPA’s top managers on environmental programs in Indian Country. The DeCouteau Award recognizes exceptional environmental work on Indian lands and is named for Frank DeCouteau who directed Turtle Mountain’s programs in Belcourt until his death in 1989.

"Friend of EPA" Awards went to Ron P. Ness and Mary L. Keeps Eagle of the North Dakota Propane Gas Association for multiplying the effectiveness of EPA “risk management” training workshops in the state. The workshops were designed to acquaint small businesses with new rules aimed at preventing chemical accidents and improving responses to emergencies. Thanks to Ness and Keeps Eagle, the North Dakota workshops were the best attended in EPA’s entire Region, meaning compliance is likely to be better here than elsewhere.

A similar award went to Thelma Paulson of Maddock who has been an invaluable source of local information for EPA staff working on the emergency outlet issue at Devil’s Lake. Thelma’s contributions have helped EPA to more fully understand the potential impacts of the outlet on Benson County and have reinforced the need for EPA to work closely with communities affected by federally funded projects.

Azure and the North Dakotans were among 54 groups or individuals EPA recognized in its six-state region
( ND, SD, MT, WY, CO, UT).

"These awards recognize exceptional work by exceptional people whose commitment makes real and tangible differences in the environment," Rebecca Hanmer, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator in Denver said.
Editors: for details on any awardee, please contact his/her nominator:

Fargo Robert J. Tubbs 701-328-5166
Erickson et al Mary Wu 303-312-6789
Berreth Dave Glatt 701-328-5166
Azure Sadie Hoskie 303-312-6343
Ness/ Keeps Eagle Barbara Benoy 303-312-6760
Paulson Deldi Reyes 303-312-6055