Westgate / Kinzer Farm, Lapwai, ID


  • Former machine shop and open dump with soil contamination from vandalism that resulted in the spilling of used oil, solvents, grease, antifreeze, and pesticides; Tribe conducted sampling to determine contents of drums, and disposed of materials in hazardous waste landfill, extent of possible contamination in soil and groundwater unknown
  • 2011- Tribe requested property specific funding determination from EPA
  • 2007-NPT conducted sampling to determine contents of drums and drums were disposed of in a hazardous waste landfill
  • 2006-Vandalism resulted in the spilling of used oil, solvents, grease, antifreeze, and pesticides
  • Work funded by EPA through Brownfields program and HERT
  • Response action ongoing


The Nez Perce Tribe (NPT), Water Resources Division requested to assess, sample, and clean up the 838.18 acre Westgate/Kinzer Farm (Westgate) property purchased by the Tribe on August 1, 1995 through public auction during foreclosure proceedings. The Westgate property is located on the Reservation approximately two miles from Lapwai, Idaho. The NPT has been unable to put the property into federal trust because of legacy oil contamination related to the operation of a farm machine shop prior to purchase by NPT, an open dump filling a portion of the North Fork Tom Beall Creek (and probable contamination of a domestic spring and groundwater from the dump), and soil contamination resulting from the vandalism of a barrel storage area by rifle and shotgun blasts, which resulted in an uncontrolled leakage onto the ground. Approximately 836 acres of Westgate is currently under cultivation with the principal crops being winter wheat, dry peas, and spring small grains. Approximately one to two acres are potentially contaminated. The NPT Land Service’s records from the date of eviction document a significant amount of oil staining around the farm machine shop. Westgate also includes several dilapidated out buildings and demolished home site. These environmental concerns have prevented the Bureau of Indian Affairs from accepting the property in trust.

From 1966 to 1995 the Westgate property had been leased to Marvin Kinzer, whose lease was canceled shortly after it was purchased by NPT. Mr. Kinzer subsequently vandalized the property. The NPT records report damages of $47,543, but the amount of insurance available was at the time of the claim was only $7,889. The farm house was subsequently demolished by the Tribe as it was believed to be beyond repair. The farmer currently leasing the land does not use the shop or abandoned buildings.

In November 2006, a barrel storage area located adjacent to the farm shop was vandalized by unknown person who shot 55 gallon barrels, 5 gallon buckets, and farm shop buildings with a rifle and shotgun. The barrels and buckets contained used oil, some solvents, grease, antifreeze, some pesticides, and water. Some of these drums were apparently left on site by Mr. Kinzer, while others were stored at the site by the NPT Wildlife Division, which inherited them from NPT Limestone Enterprises after the quarry was closed and Wildlife took over the quarry’s shop buildings. The NPT Wildlife Division later moved them from the old Limestone Enterprise office area to the Westgate Farm Shop area, which was believed to be a safe place to store them.

On February 1, 2007 the NPT Water Resources Division conducted sampling to characterize the remaining contents of the drums and buckets. The drums, buckets, and their contents were then removed by Chem Safe Environmental of Kittitas, Washington and transported for disposal under a hazardous waste manifest.

A farm-sized landfill is exposed in the headwaters of North Fork Tom Beall Creek approximately 50 to 100 feet from the farm shop. In the debris-filled stream channel, tires and empty pesticide barrels protrude from the soil. An abandoned concrete spring collection box is located within the creek channel at the toe of this landfill. A domestic water well is located approximately 200 feet downstream from the landfill, which is adjacent to the demolished farmhouse. An internal memo written by NPT Land Services Division to NPT Office of Legal Council described concerns over possible contamination of the water well.

 Characterization and cleanup of barrels and buckets at the site was done by NPT Hazardous Environmental Response Team (HERT) program members. There has been no regulatory action at this site. Cleanup of this property will allow the spring and associated wetland to be restored and the tribal land placed into federal trust. It would also allow for the repair and reuse of the shop building and other buildings on the property.