$25 million extra pledged for Tar Creek
BY OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Thursday, April 16, 2009
6/12/09 at 1:43 PM
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is committing an additional $25 million to complete the buyout of Tar Creek homes and businesses and to accelerate the cleanup within the Tar Creek Superfund site.
Support for the federal buyout is being led by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., and Gov. Brad Henry, also a Democrat.
The new money comes from stimulus spending as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Inhofe said the money would help keep the federal buyout on schedule to relocate homeowners and business owners in Ottawa County.
"Today's EPA announcement of $25 million in new spending means our relocation and cleanup efforts will be on an accelerated timeline. It's great news to see that we are speeding up the process as we reach the finish line," he said. "This funding not only completes the relocation phase being conducted by the Lead Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust but provides necessary funds to clean up this area."
J.D. Strong, the state's secretary of the environment, said the EPA has said that $11 million of the $25 million would be devoted to the Tar Creek buyout.
"Based on our current estimates, that should be adequate to finish the buyout," Strong said.
The relocation trust is overseeing a $60 million voluntary buyout of about 700 homes, businesses and public-use structures that could qualify for the relocation plan. Tar Creek is on the EPA's Superfund site list of polluted areas across the United States.
The federal buyout began in May 2006, and it is well past the halfway point. After struggling with adequate funding initially, the buyout could be nearing completion by December 2009.
Inhofe stressed that progress has been achieved through collaboration by Boren, Henry, Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey, the EPA and his office.
Henry said: "This is more good news for the people in the Picher and Cardin areas, and I appreciate Sen. Inhofe's leadership on this issue. This has been a long, difficult process and there will be more challenges ahead, but with the continued support of the Obama administration and other federal, state and local partners, we will complete the relocation in a timely manner."
Inhofe has secured $55 million in federal funding for both environmental cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund site and relocation assistance for area residents who have been affected by lead and zinc pollution caused by decades of mining within the Superfund site.
Omer Gillham 581-8301