Former worker claims environmental violations on Wampanoag lands

Corey Randolph, a licensed wastewater plant operator and former Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) employee, has accused the tribe of improper handling of hazardous chemicals and dumping, on tribal lands .

Mr. Randolph was responsible for the tribe’s housing complex wastewater treatment facility for a brief period in November and December. He is also a member of the federally recognized tribe.

Mr. Randolph told The Times he saw the flammable compounds methanol, caustic potash, and gasoline stored near an emergency generator. He said after he reported the problems to tribe officials, someone dumped the barrels of methanol on tribe property. Those tribe officials Mr. Randolph says he alerted included tribe housing administrator Jennie Greene. In a telephone conversation, Ms. Greene said water, not hazardous chemicals, was in the barrels.

Late yesterday, a DEP spokesman ackowledged that the state agency has been notified of the alleged violations and has begun an investigation.

Mr. Randolph said he also reported violations related to a lack of maintenance at the wastewater treatment facility.

In addition to Ms. Greene, Mr. Randolph says he reported the existence and location of the hazardous chemicals to housing authority board chairman Raymond Moreis and tribe chairman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais. He said he also reported the violations to the tribe’s natural resources department and to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“We did receive a complaint in late December regarding an alleged hazardous materials storage violation that occurred in mid-November,” DEP spokesman Joe Ferson told The Times. “We are currently investigating that complaint and looking at other jurisdictional issues.”

Mr. Randolph claimed that he quit his job in December out of disgust, but also over a pay dispute.

Ms. Greene made no further comment and referred The Times to Mr. Moreis, who did not return two phone messages left for him. Tribe administrator Tobias Vanderhoop referred a reporter to Ms. Greene.

In a later phone message, Ms. Greene said the tribe housing authority board would issue a statement following a special meeting scheduled for next week.