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News Releases from Region 06

EPA partners with Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma to continue cleanup at Tar Creek Superfund site; EPA awards over $4 Million to tribe

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

DALLAS (May 18, 2017) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) recently awarded $4,896,088 in financial assistance to the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma. The tribe will use the funds to continue remediating contaminated soils from tribal lands.

“I am determined to prioritize Superfund cleanups which are a core part of our mission,” said Administrator Pruitt. “It’s important that we address state and tribal rights when protecting the environment and natural resources.”

“The Quapaw Tribe is fortunate to be true partners with the EPA,” said Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey.  “The people of Region 6 have been the best teammates we could ask for, and with the new Administrator Scott Pruitt we fit into the future of the EPA because of our tireless quality work and our ability to do more with less. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the American tax payers resources.” 

The Quapaw independently developed construction contracting capabilities in the development of schools and hotels which enabled them to have competitive expertise. On October 1, 2012, EPA and the Quapaw Tribe signed a Cooperative Agreement to perform remedial action at the Tar Creek Superfund site, making the tribe the first to lead and manage cleanup of a federal superfund site. The remedial action involved the excavation, hauling and disposal of approximately 107,000 tons contaminated material.

The Tar Creek Superfund site is a former lead and zinc mining area located in the northern portion of Ottawa County, Oklahoma. The site is part of the Tri-State Mining District located at the junction of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The site occupies approximately 40 square miles consisting of Ottawa County, Oklahoma, portion of the Picher Field mining region and any area where a hazardous substance from mining or milling in Ottawa County has been stored or disposed. The site is bounded by the State of Kansas to the north. The major communities include Cardin, Commerce, North Miami, Picher, and Quapaw.

In addition to the chat, there are hundreds of miles of abandoned mines filled with acid mine water and impacting watersheds covering over 100 square miles. EPA is currently investigating surface water and sediment affected by the mine waste.

Over the last 30 years, EPA and stakeholders have made great progress in eliminating human health threats the site posed; however, much work remains. A total of over $300 million has been committed to the site, but remediation will require many more millions of dollars. The EPA completed remediation of nearly 3000 residential properties, relocated four communities, remediated approximately 3.2 million tons of mining waste and affected soils, and plugged over 50 abandoned wells. As a result of these activities, approximately 600 acres of private and tribal lands have been remediated and are ready for reuse.

There are 566 federally recognized tribes within the United States. Each tribe is an independent sovereign nation, responsible for setting standards, making environmental policy, and managing environmental programs for its people. While each tribe faces unique challenges, many share similar environmental legacies. EPA and tribes have been working together to clean up contaminated sites for more than a decade, and the partnership is making a difference.

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