Quapaw Tribe Announces First Tribally-Managed Superfund Site Cle - KOAM TV 7

Quapaw Tribe Announces First Tribally-Managed Superfund Site Cleanup in the Nation; site within the Tar Creek Superfund Site



Quapaw Tribe Announces First Tribally-Managed Superfund Site Cleanup in the Nation

For the first time in the history of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Cleanup program, a tribe will be leading and managing the cleanup of a property with a Superfund site. The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma has initiated the cleanup of the Catholic 40 site, which is located within the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Northeast Oklahoma. This site is southeast of Quapaw, Oklahoma and is owned by the Quapaw Tribe.

In 1892, the Catholic Church constructed a church and boarding school where many Quapaw Tribal members attended church and school until 1927 when the Catholic Church closed the facilities. In 1937, the Catholic Church leased the property for mining, which resulted in the site being largely covered by mine tailings (locally known as chat), which is contaminated with heavy metals. The ruins of the church and school, as well as contaminated mine tailings, remain on the property today. The Quapaw Tribe wishes to remediate the land and preserve historic features on it.

The Tar Creek Superfund site is comprised of nearly 40 square miles of mine tailings, undermined areas, and acid mine drainage areas. The tribe has a staff of engineers, scientists, and construction managers; they also have most of the construction equipment necessary to perform this work. The tribe has worked with EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas to utilize existing site plans so that consistency among various site-wide projects is maintained. The tribe has also developed work plans required by EPA to perform the work. EPA has approved these plans and will also provide project oversight.

The tribe anticipates success of the Catholic 40 Cleanup Project, which will demonstrate to EPA and the local community that the tribe has the capability to participate in other remediation efforts at the Tar Creek site. This Superfund site has adversely affected the Quapaw Tribe and other tribes in the area for generations. Remediating key areas will ultimately enable land to be brought back into productive uses. The project will address source material and affected transition zone (TZ) soils. The contaminations of concern (COCs) at the Catholic 40 are lead, zinc, and cadmium.

Quapaw Tribal Chairman John Berrey acknowledged the cooperation between the government entities regarding the tribe’s direct involvement in the project. “Through the encouragement of Senator [James] Inhofe and the innovative and cooperative efforts between the Quapaw Tribe, EPA Region 6, and local landowners, this first-ever tribally-led Superfund cleanup effort is exciting for everyone.” Chairman Berrey went on to say, “The Quapaw Tribe will be here forever, and we have a vested interest in the land and in the interests of our neighbors. Therefore, we are anxious to demonstrate that the Quapaw Tribe is the appropriate stakeholder to perform remediation activities on tribal properties and, thereby, help restore the land to uses that will benefit the future of the tribe and the local community.”


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