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Cleanup plan finalized for Tar Creek Superfund site


The Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with the State of Oklahoma Environmental Secretary, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, has completed the final cleanup plan for the Tar Creek Superfund site in Ottawa County, Oklahoma.

Components of the cleanup plan include: (1) funding for the voluntary relocation of residents and businesses located in Picher, Cardin and Hockerville through the State of Oklahoma’s Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust, (2) chat sales, and (3) disposal of source materials in a manner that will reduce the overall footprint of contamination and reduce the need for land use restrictions, institutional controls, and operation and maintenance. The cost of the plan is approximately $167 million.

“This master plan will ensure a coordinated commitment to permanently clean up the Tar Creek Superfund site,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “It is a long-awaited step in finalizing work to clean up one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites, and I am pleased to be part of this monumental occasion.”

The final cleanup plan reaffirms years of hard work by local, tribal, state and federal partners to permanently clean up the site. It addresses contamination posed by chat piles, other mine and mill waste, and smelter waste in the 40-square mile former lead and zinc mining area.

EPA based its decision on public comments, extensive studies of the extent of contamination, and human health and environmental risks caused by the contamination at the site. More details on the plan are described in the record of decision, which is available at

EPA has spent nearly $150 million addressing immediate threats to the residents near and around the site by removing lead and zinc waste, known as chat, from residential yards and from high access areas. After yard remediation and extensive health education efforts funded by EPA, a 50 percent reduction in the number of children with elevated blood lead levels has been achieved in local communities.

EPA listed the Tar Creek site on its National Priorities List in 1983. The site is located in northeastern Oklahoma and is part of the 1,188 square mile historic zinc and lead mines known as the Tri-State Mining District in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Mining began in the early 1900s and continued until the 1960s.

Much of the land on the Tar Creek site is allotted Indian Land. The towns of Picher, Cardin, Commerce, North Miami and Quapaw are also part of the site. Approximately 19,000 people live in the communities surrounding the site.


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