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Future management of trash transfer stations in question
Future management of trash transfer stations on the Wind River Indian Reservation, such as this one between Arapahoe and Ethete, is in question unless an agreement can be made between tribal officials and the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District. Photo by Katie Roenigk

County, tribes struggle with new trash contract

Oct 4, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

The current agreement is set to expire Dec. 14 and will put waste management in question for reservation areas.

The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District hopes to meet with tribal officials soon to hammer out a new contract between the entities as the current agreement nears its termination date.

"The District is ready and willing to meet with the tribes to work on a resolution to the current situation," stated a letter sent from the solid waste board and superintendent Andy Frey to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho business councils. "However, in order to do so it will require open lines of communication between the parties. Additionally, due to the time constraints imposed by the 1996

contract, it is necessary that the discussions proceed as soon and constantly as possible."

The letter was sent a few days after solid waste district leaders met behind closed doors Sept. 10 to discuss contract negotiations concerning the management of four trash transfer sites on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

During the Fremont County Commission meeting Sept. 25, chairman Doug Thompson said he attended the solid waste disposal district's meeting where officials tried to come up with a strategy concerning the reservation.

Thompson said he wasn't aware that the current contract doesn't allow the tribes to manage or have authority over waste disposal.

"If it can't be monitored, it's a health hazard and a safety issue," Thompson said.

In its letter to the tribes, the solid waste district expressed a desire to meet with them to work on a resolution.

After failed negotiations for a new agreement, the solid waste district voted in June to start a six-month termination notice on its 1996 trash disposal contract with the tribes.

Unless an agreement can be made, the contract will terminate Dec. 14, leaving trash management in question for tribal areas.

"In the meantime, the state of the transfer stations (has) deteriorated substantially," the newest letter stated.

The department asked the tribal representatives to come up with their own plan to manage the four transfer sites under a proposed $375,000 annual fee, which is based on the amount spent by the district to operate the reservation stations.

Tribal representatives shot down the proposal, saying it was too low an amount to operate the sites while also transporting the waste the landfills and paying the fees of 4 cents per pound.

Another proposal made was for the district to manage the sites and transport the waste to the landfills. Stipulations would be required such as fencing in the sites, setting operation hours, tipping fees at the gate and adopting of the district's rules and regulations.

In its letter to the tribes, the district reiterated its concern about the lack of communication.

"Under the 1996 contract, if the contract is terminated, the District will lose certain rights on the reservation sites," the letter read. "If there is no contract in place, the District will no longer have the ability or the right to operate the transfer stations as the current locations."

In its letter, the district stated it was ready and willing to meet with the tribes to work on a resolution as soon as possible.

"Hopefully, all involved will recognize the severity of the situation and that a resolution of the issue needs to occur prior to the expiration of the contracted," the letter concluded.