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EPA Officials Tour Tar Creek Superfund Site Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of the Superfund Task Force

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DALLAS – (July 26, 2018) Today, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Oklahoma toured the Tar Creek Superfund site in Northeast Oklahoma. Participants discussed progress with the site and future goals for the continuing cleanup. The tour and discussion follow the announcement on July 23, 2018, of the one-year anniversary of the EPA Superfund Task Force Report.

Significant progress at the Tar Creek has been achieved through the implementation of the report’s recommendations of “Engaging with Partners and Stakeholders.” The EPA has participated in ongoing engagement with the Quapaw Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Miami Agency to work collaboratively to develop appropriate institutional controls and implement them effectively. Nationwide, the EPA held or participated in more than 1,370 public meetings and 3,190 in-person meetings or interviews with community members living near Superfund sites.

"EPA has improved the health, living conditions, and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites over the past year as the Agency worked to implement the Task Force recommendations,” said Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “I am proud of the accomplishments achieved by EPA’s hardworking staff, and we will continue to engage directly with stakeholders and communities near Superfund sites to accelerate cleanup and promote economic revitalization. Our plan to complete Task Force recommendations by the end of 2019 will ensure this work continues as one of EPA’s highest priorities.”

“The ongoing implementation of a remedy at a Superfund site by the Quapaw Tribe is the first time that this has occurred in the history of the EPA,” said Regional Administrator Anne Idsal. “Implementing the Task Force recommendations and working closely with nine tribes at the site is crucial for the on-going clean-up and watershed investigation.”

“The Tar Creek Superfund site is entirely within the reservation of the Quapaw Tribe; and the Quapaw Tribe has been the most adversely affected stakeholder since mining began nearly a hundred years ago. This is the first Superfund site where a Tribe has taken the lead and is performing the cleanup, resulting in local employment and economic benefits,” said Quapaw Tribal Chairman John Berrey. “I look forward to continuing to work with EPA and ODEQ to further expedite the cleanup and find innovative approaches to the environmental problems that still exist at the site.”

EPA is currently investigating the surface water and sediment affected by the site’s mine waste with a focus on how tribes that use the surface water for cultural purposes are affected. This investigation requires coordination with nine tribes and covers seven watersheds, including 437 square miles and 200 river miles.

EPA has completed cleanup of nearly 3,000 residential properties, relocated four communities, remediated approximately 3.8 million tons of mining waste and affected soils, and plugged over 50 abandoned wells. Now, approximately 620 acres of private and tribal lands are ready for reuse.

The 40-square-mile Tar Creek site is located in northeast Oklahoma on the Kansas/Missouri border. Abandoned mining operations left millions of cubic yards of lead, cadmium, and zinc contaminated mill waste in ‘chat piles.’

The Superfund Task Force was commissioned on May 22, 2017, to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund program. One year ago, on July 25, 2017, EPA issued the Superfund Task Force Report, which included 42 recommendations in five goal areas:

  • Expediting Cleanup and Remediation;
  • Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse;
  • Encouraging Private Investment;
  • Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization; and
  • Engaging Partners and Stakeholders.

EPA’s new “Superfund Task Force Recommendations 2018 Update” is available at: 

A video highlighting Superfund success stories from across the country can be found here: 

The Agency’s new informational mapping tool on the Redevelopment Focus List is available at:

EPA will continue to post opportunities for external stakeholders to participate in the Task Force work on the Superfund Task Force web page at:

RA Idsal stands atop a chat pile while getting briefed by staff from ODEQ, the Quapaw Tribe and EPA.

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment.