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EPA grants millions to Tar Creek cleanup - KOAM TV 7

EPA grants millions to Tar Creek cleanup

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QUAPAW, OKLAHOMA -

The Tar Creek Superfund area has been cleaning up the area previously mined for lead and zinc since 2013. But with "tens of millions of tons" of waste rock lying around in chat piles, extra resources are necessary. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted the tribe with a $9.5 million cleanup grant to clean an additional 100 acres, the largest in the site's history.

"As they have the money, they'll award it to us to continue the cleanup over time," Tim Kent, director of Quapaw tribe environmental services said. "so they prioritize the funding, and the larger more contaminated sites get more of the money, so a significant amount of money comes to Tar Creek."

Generations of Quapaw people have dealt with the burden of the mining aftermath.

"If you look at the history of the tribe as it relates to Tar Creek, the tribe has been the most adversely affected," Kent said.

Nearby towns like Cardin and Picher have been completely ran out, but Kent says the tribe is staying put.

 "The tribe's gonna be here forever. So it's in the best interest of the tribe to get as much cleaned up as they can," Kent said.

Along with the tribe's own "Quapaw Services Authority", contracts have been made with local truck-hauling companies to keep the millions of dollars in the local region. 

"A lot of tribal members are currently working, as well as a lot of local truck hauling companies are here, and we're about to hit into that wintertime where a lot of those guys aren't working during that time, so this is a great opportunity for them to work in a season where normally, they wouldn't," Craig Kreman, who is aiding in the oversight of the cleanup said.

Tribe officials plan to continue to apply for grants to maximize the area being cleaned up. Kent said they are currently on the outside working towards the center. 

"The tribe wins, EPA wins, the local community wins. The tribe uses local contractors to do the work so it's really invigorating the economy around here," Kent said.

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