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EPA, Interior, Army, Agree to Work Together in Removing Health Risks at Tar Creek, Oklahoma Superfund Site

Release Date: 5/1/2003
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

      EPA today announced its signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and the U.S. Dept. of the Army to develop and implement solutions to the human health and environmental threats posed by the Tar Creek Superfund site located in northeastern Oklahoma and other states.

      "This MOU will help ensure a coordinated, effective, federal commitment to clean up the Tar Creek Superfund site and protect the local communities plagued by contamination from the site. The MOU would not have been possible without the good faith efforts of the Department of Interior, Department of the Army, and the strong leadership of Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Senator Inhofe has been a longtime supporter of this effort and has been instrumental in facilitating this agreement."

      The MOU gives the federal agencies the opportunity to coordinate with the affected Indian tribes, the State of Oklahoma, local communities, and other stakeholders in determining the most effective manner for resolving the issues at this site. No single authority under any of the agencies could address the full of range of issue at this site, which is why they decided to work collaboratively.  

      Even before today's MOU, EPA has spent nearly $100 million addressing immediate threats to the residents near and around the 40 square-mile 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.

      The 40 square-mile lead-and-zinc contaminated Tar Creek site was listed on the National Priorities List in 1983. The site encompasses the Oklahoma portion of the Tri-State Mining District of northeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, and southwestern Missouri, and includes communities in Ottawa County outside the mining area that are also contaminated with mining waste. The towns of Picher, Cardin, Commerce, North Miami and Quapaw are also part of the site. Much of the land on the Tar Creek site is allotted Indian Land. Approximately 30,000 people live in the communities surrounding the site.


A copy of the MOU is available at