EPA Releases Final Tar Creek Strategic Plan to Improve Cleanup Progress
DALLAS – (Sept 17, 2019) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the state of Oklahoma and the Quapaw Nation, released the Final Tar Creek Strategic Plan to advance the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund site. The strategic plan provides an update on the cleanup progress and outlines how EPA, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the Quapaw Nation, and the Tar Creek community will work to improve progress in addressing mining waste and contamination at the site. The release of the strategic plan was announced by the EPA Regional Administrator, joined by the Quapaw Chairman and the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, at the annual Tar Creek Conference, hosted by Local Environmental Action Demanded, Inc. (the L.E.A.D. Agency).
“This strategic plan is a commitment to the communities near the Tar Creek site by EPA and our state and tribal partners to work together to accelerate the cleanup of the site and build a better future for those who call this area home,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ken McQueen.
“Great progress has been made at the Tar Creek Superfund site, but much work is yet to be done. Through the objectives outlined in the strategic plan, and with the ongoing efforts of our partners, we will continue to build on our previous accomplishments and create a better home for Tar Creek area residents,” said Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Thompson.
“The Quapaw Nation is proud of our continuing partnership with the EPA and ODEQ,” said Quapaw Nation Chairman John Berrey. “This Strategic Plan, developed with our fellow stakeholders and the fine dedicated federal team at Region 6 and the EPA central office led by Administrator Wheeler, puts on paper a collaborative plan for a positive future working together to reduce the footprint at the Tar Creek Site. Our entire team looks forward to more mission focused efforts to clean up our homeland and continue to remediate the site in the most efficient way possible—always with the environment and health and safety our priority.”
EPA gathered public feedback on the Tar Creek Strategic Plan during a 30-day comment period. The release of the strategic plan fulfills two major milestones identified for the site when it was placed on the Administrator’s Emphasis List. The first milestone required identification and evaluation of opportunities to accelerate site cleanup, and the second established a milestone for achieving long-term stewardship by implementing institutional controls on tribally-owned property to protect cleanup. To achieve this milestone, EPA worked collaboratively with the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Quapaw Nation. This resulted in the first national conservation easement recorded on tribally-owned property at a Superfund Site.
The strategic plan guides cleanup progress through identified near- and long-term actions. Some near-term cleanup actions include the partial deletion of up to 5,000 acres, amending the 2008 record of decision for mining waste, and issuing a new record of decision for the watersheds. Long-term actions include exploring innovative technologies to expedite the cleanup and identifying additional reuse opportunities. Additionally, the cleanup at the site furthers the commitment EPA made in the Federal Lead Action Plan by managing lead contamination at Superfund sites, thereby reducing exposure to community residents.
Tar Creek, in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, is one of the nation’s oldest and most complex Superfund sites. For decades, EPA and partners have worked on the site and made progress in the cleanup, but much remains to be done. In 2017, the site was included on the EPA Administrator’s Emphasis List, also known as the Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action, which is a targeted, dynamic list of Superfund sites that benefit from the direct involvement of the EPA Administrator to make more significant progress on cleanup.
Tar Creek Superfund site webpage: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/tar-creek
For more about EPA’s work in Oklahoma: https://www.epa.gov/ok
For more about EPA’s Federal Lead Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/lead
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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central
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