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MAKOTI - A group of Fort Berthold reservation residents plans meetings this spring to talk about the pollution potential from an oil refinery proposed west of here.

The Three Affiliated Tribes are joining with Triad Project in Utah to build the $81 million refinery, which would employ 65 people. It will meet standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said Glenda Embry, a spokesman for the tribe.

Jodie White of White Shield, a spokeswoman for a group called the Environmental Awareness Committee of Fort Berthold, said residents want to discuss their questions about water, air and soil pollution from the refinery.

"We thought we would try to oppose this through awareness," White said.

With improved technology, the sulfur released by the proposed refinery will be 30 times less than sulfur emissions from one car, Embry said.

"We believe we can be stewards of the earth and achieve balance between science and nature," she said.

White said plant officials have failed to specify the technology that will be used to protect the environment. The EPA lists more than 600 toxic chemicals that are created in the refining process, she said.

"It's really scary. I am really worried for the people of Makoti," she said. "There's a school right there, as well as the people of the surrounding area."

Her group also questions a plan to graze bison on land around the refinery.

The Environmental Awareness Committee also is interested in the lignite industry and other environmental issues that affect people on the reservation, White said.

The committee has invited representatives of Refinery Reform, a national group interested in cleaning up refineries, to speak at workshops to be scheduled in Fort Berthold communities this spring.

"I would really rather it not be anywhere in our state," White said of the refinery. "We don't need another polluting entity in our state."

The EPA is working with the BIA to prepare an environmental impact statement on the refinery, Embry said. Publication of the draft statement will be followed by a 45-day comment period and public hearings, she said.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.ndweb.com

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