Tribe responds to allegations of dumping

This week, the chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), in a press statement to The Times, said that allegations by a former employee of environmental violations on tribal lands are without merit.

In a separate statement, the chairman of the Tribal Housing Authority, said the claims of wrondoing came from a “disgruntled temporary contractor.”

The allegations were reported in a news brief published February 10. The Times reported that Corey Randolph, a licensed wastewater plant operator and former employee, had 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.

A DEP spokesman acknowledged that the state agency has been notified of the alleged violations and has begun an investigation.

Last week, tribe officials discounted Mr. Randolph’s claims and said a statement would be forthcoming.

“The individual made his concerns known to us and was advised to follow our reporting protocols and procedures,” Cheryl Andrews-Maltais said in a statement emailed to The Times dated February 14. “The situation was investigated and evaluated. At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that in fact there was no issue at all. The individual was informed of that fact, as well as the housing authority. At no time was there any threat to the environment or to our tribal members.

“Please remember that the careful preservation and stewardship of our tribal lands is extremely important to us. As a tribal family, the safety and well being of our members is always of concern to us.”

In a separate email dated Feb. 15, housing authority board chairman Raymond Moreis said the Times report about environmental violations on Tribal lands was inaccurate. “The Housing Authority considers this to be the act of a disgruntled temporary contractor with no basis in fact and an internal matter which we have addressed,” Mr. Moreis wrote.

“The Natural Resources Department of the Tribe has inspected the site and found that there was no imminent flammability hazard or environmental threat. The Housing Authority and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) make every effort to preserve and protect our natural resources and will continue to do so into the future.”