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EPA and Tribal Officials Tour Tar Creek Superfund Site

Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (
214 665-2200

DALLAS - (Aug. 15, 2017) On Monday, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toured the Tar Creek Superfund site in Northeast Oklahoma as part of this week's Tribal Lands Forum conference in Tulsa, OK. Participants discussed progress with the site and future goals for the continuing cleanup.

Among those attending the tour was Albert "Kell" Kelley, senior advisor to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt specializing in land revitalization, as well as Jane Nishida, acting associate administrator for the Office of Indian and Tribal Affairs; Ken Wagner, senior advisor to the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for regional and state affairs; Sam Coleman, acting regional administrator; Sarah Greenwalt, policy advisor to the administrator on cross-cutting issues; Felicia Wright, acting direct of the American Indian Office; and Jessica Snyder, tribal program coordinator in the Office of Land and Emergency Management.

Tar Creek, a former lead and zinc mine in Ottawa County, Okla., is one of the nation's oldest and most complex Superfund sites. In addition to addressing mining waste and other environmental issues within the site, EPA's work has also included cleanup of nearby residential properties and job training for area residents. EPA has joined with partners from the state of Oklahoma and the Quapaw Tribe throughout the cleanup process, with the tribe and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality handling much of the oversight and cleanup work today.

"People from all across the country count on the Superfund program to address pollution and revitalize their communities," said Albert "Kell" Kelley. "Tar Creek cleanup is an excellent example of how the program should work. State and local partners, Tribal partners, and EPA - all working together year-after-year to address historical pollution at this mega-site. It's cooperative federalism working at its best."

Superfund cleanups benefit the health of those who live on or near Superfund sites. Academic research has shown these cleanups reduce birth defects close to a site by as much as 25 percent. When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, it frequently returns to beneficial uses. More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway. Cleanups also increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup. EPA reviewed 454 Superfund sites supporting use or reuse activities and found that these sites had approximately 3,900 businesses with 108,000 employees and annual sales of more than $29 billion.

Community partnerships are critical to Superfund site cleanups. EPA's goal is to work with community partners at every site by establishing an effective process to fully explore future uses before the cleanup remedy's selection. This approach gives EPA the best chance of ensuring remedies are consistent with a site's likely future use.  

For information about Superfund and the NPL: