Advocates are making slow, but steady progress to clean up a portion of the Columbia River that has been named an EPA Superfund site.
Eric Tegethoff has more.
Toxic pollution dumped by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over 40 years at Bradford Island contaminated fish in the area, which are used as sustenance by the region’s Indigenous people.
Rose Longoria is regional Superfund project manager for the Yakama Nation.
She says the contaminated site has been known for two decades, but only recently got Superfund listing.
“If it wasn’t for Yakama Nation, Bradford Island would not be on the National Priorities List. And even now, I believe that if it wasn’t for Yakama, no one else would be pushing as hard to get this site the attention that it needs.”
There is a “Do Not Eat” advisory for resident fish near Bradford Island.
Organizations like Columbia Riverkeeper have created advisories in English and Spanish to let people know which fish are safe to harvest.
Laura Shira is an environmental engineer with Yakama Nation Fisheries. She says resident fish near Bradford Island have the highest in the nation concentration of a toxic compound known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
“There’s all these fishing platforms – on the Washington shoreline, on Goose Island, on the Oregon shoreline – and those are tribal fishing platforms and they’re within like a quarter to a third of a mile of what we know to be the worst contaminated area on that north shore of Bradford Island.”
While it’s been listed as a Superfund site, Yakama Nation and others in the region are still waiting on a concrete cleanup plan. Longoria says the PCB levels in resident fish make this an emergency and thinks the federal government should act quickly to correct the situation.
“There are significant data gaps that need to be filled, but we need to do that as expeditiously as possible and determine the full nature and extent of contamination, and determine the best way of cleaning up the site to protect human health and the environment.”
One of the longest running and most lucrative mid-distance sled dog races in the world gets underway in Western Alaska Friday night.
As KYUK’s Emily Schwing reports, the field is deep and includes Alaska Native competitors who are making waves in the mushing world.
Pete Kaiser is the second winningest musher in Kuskokwim 300 history with seven championships and he will have his dog team lined out at the startline again this year.
“If you get in a position at some point during the race to win, then maybe it’s your race to lose, but before the race starts, I don’t think of it that way.”
Competition in this year’s race is fierce and includes last year’s Iditarod champ, Ryan Reddington.
“It’s quite the dog race with competition here, so whoever makes the top three is gonna have to have a good dog team and execute a good race plan.”
Richie Diehl will also be on the sled runners, vying for a second career win, but he says he’s not sure if his dogs have what it takes for a top finish.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to say if you if you could put me in that group, but if they look good, I’m definitely not gonna back off the throttle.”
Per mile, the purse for the 300 miles sled dog race, is one of the most lucrative in mushing totaling $185,000.
The trail takes dog teams through a half dozen predominantly Indigenous communities on Alaska’s Yukon Kuskokwim Delta.
This year’s is the 45th running of the Kuskokwim 300.
Apple plans to provide grants to the Sundance Institute Indigenous Program and the National Museum of the American Indian, Variety reports.
It’s part of the company’s Empowering Creatives program.
The grants are intended to support and partner with Indigenous communities and amplify voices and experiences of Indigenous people.