EPA releases update on Tar Creek Superfund site progress

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The EPA’s Superfund Task Force show major progress has been made in Tar Creek in the past two years.

These efforts shown in a final report coincide with several other Superfund sites deemed hazardous and were also evaluated during this time.

“This particular report lets us know that they are listening,” explained director Rebecca Jim. “People all over the country wanted to be on that list to have actions taken by EPA. Not everyone got on that list, but we did. This Superfund site got on it and there is some progress being made because of it.”

Quapaw Nation Tribal Land restrictions will now allow for the land to be used for agricultural purposes.

“As we clean these sites, we immediately grow crops or we put cows on it as pasture,” added Tim Kent with Quapaw Nation.

Plus, homes will not be allowed to be built on the land.

“The strategic plan calls for granting the tribe $15 million a year for the next five years because funding consistency is one of the problems at these sites.,” Kent continued. “When you don’t have funding consistency, the clean-up slows down.”

There’s still more work to be done, so the Tar Creek strategic plan will decide how to move forward with the cleanup

“It includes getting rid of a lot of the chat that’s out there and investigating the the sediment in the surface water all the way down to Grand Lake,” said Kent.

“I’d like to pick up the pace,” Jim explained. “We are stuck in the middle right now — we are halfway done with some parts of the Tar Creek work on the Superfund site, but I think the community needs it to move up a little faster.”

Kent adds there are still 50 million tons of waste out there to be cleaned up, and it could be many decades before the clean-up will be complete.

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