EPA to Relocate More Residents Near Toxic Oklahoma Site

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will help relocate residents from a Kansas town next to the Tar Creek Superfund site in Oklahoma. The buyout is the latest in a long series of attempts to overcome years of pollution from lead and zinc mine waste at the 40-square-mile site.

By 2004, the EPA had already spent $107 million trying to clean up the waste. Time Magazine described what living by the toxic land meant for residents:

This is eco-assault on an epic scale. The prairie here in the northeast corner of the state is punctured with 480 open mine shafts and 30,000 drill holes. Little League fields have been built over an immense underground cavity that could collapse at any time. Acid mine waste flushes into drinking wells. When the water rises in Tar Creek, which runs through the site, a neon-orange scum oozes onto the roadside. Wild onions, a regional delicacy tossed into scrambled eggs, are saturated with cadmium — which may explain, local doctors say, why three different kidney dialysis centers have opened here to serve a population of only 30,000.

In 2006, the federal government started a $55 million buyout program to move out residents of three Oklahoma towns hit hardest by the pollution. They are mostly ghost towns now.

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About the author

Matthew Richmond is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

One comment to “EPA to Relocate More Residents Near Toxic Oklahoma Site”

  1. Daniel R. Cobb

    Thanks for the posting Matthew. The sad truth is that unregulated mining (which is most mining in the U.S.) forever steals the land. Mine sites, vast and sprawling, are so horrendously contaminated, toxic, and dangerous that the entire are is irrevocably rendered useless. Forever. Citizens who are gullible enough to live nearby are subject to permanent organ damage, neurological injury, early death, and even birth defects in infants. And yet, inspite of all of this, the mining industry is for the most part, unregulated. And where the laws do exist to constrain these greedy companies, local authorities refuse to enforce. The same indifference to regulations resulted in Massey Energy’s disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. The mining industry in America is, with very few exceptions, a travesty. Write and call your politicians and demand change. If you don’t get results, run for office and be that change you seek.

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