Recently the EPA granted $10 million to the Quapaw Tribe to do restoration on 130 acres north of Commerce, OK on the west side of the road that used to take us to the town of Cardin, for approximately $77,000 an acre. mark Twain used to say, "land, they ain't making any more of it." But that is exactly what the Quapaw Tribe is doing. They are taking wasteland and restoring it for use again. It is $77,000 an acre. At an earlier project the costs were more like $62,000, so costs vary depending on the sad state of the land.
Those numbers got me to thinking. If the Tar creek Superfund Site is 40 square miles, and each square mile is 640 acres, that would mean our site is 25,6000 acres. a few distal areas have been cleared, so let's round it off to 25,000 acres to go.
Read the Department of Justice consent Decree. It is in a comment period until January 7. Be ready to get your pencil out and your calculator. On their website search for Doe run. The first time I heard that name, I immediately thought of a song from the past. "Da Do Run Run" - the Crystals - from the 1960's. If you know it, hum a bit as you do that search.
A big of background: The U.S. EPA and the State of Oklahoma have spend $331 million as of June 30, 2015 at the Tar Creek Superfund site. We are worth it. But they have just now begun the hard work of taking down mountains of chat, lots of it and reclaiming pasture and farmland. The landscape is changing. Not fast enough for me, of course. But it is changing.
The watershed will be shed of mine waste, Missouri and Kansas have begun working on portions of their Tri-State problem. After the rain event we have just experienced, the watershed dumped lots of mine waste down our streams and rivers with it ending up at Grand Lake, a drinking water source for most nearby countries and their residents. We who are affected by this mess are more than just your neighbors in Ottawa county, and we are all worth the efforts that must be made to protect our health and the environment.
Red the complaint the government made on our behalf against a few of the potentially responsible parties: individuals, companies, or any other parties that are potentially liable for payment of Superfund cleanup costs. PRP's made the money and left the mess. We did not do it, but if the government is left with the costs, it will come out of our taxes until we encourage Congress to reinstate the Superfund tax on polluters.
One of our PRP's Doe Run, a bad actor in Missouri had to pay $65 million dollars for clean up. Our government is asking doe Run to pay EPA $3,433,137 and to pay the state of Oklahoma $62,000. Another of our PRP's "NL" is required to pay EPA $6,603,590 and $225,000 to the state of Oklahoma.
Doe Run could clean up 44 acres plus one for the state. NL could cleanup 85 acres plus 3 for the state. combined these funds could just cover the cost of the current 130 acre Quapaw Tribal project. But when you read the complaint the Department of Justice wrote, what they are requiring these PRP's to pay does not seem like justice.
Quietly sitting on a page in the Consent Decree is the additional $5 million the United States has included to pay EPA for the Department of the Interior's bad behavior at this site, though it is not made clear in the document which of its agencies or bureaus was the bad actor. It is locally believed the Bureau of Indian Affairs managed the mining leases poorly for the tribal landowners and encouraged leaving the mine wste on the properties. This amount from this potentially responsible party could cripple the long term response needed to pay for the cleanup for this site.
a lot of money was made from mining and it will take even more to clean up the mess. The government can pursue justice for us, and we entrust them to do it to meet the long term goals for cleanup. This settlement seems weak on the side of justice.
This is the judically-approved settlement signed on November 20, 2015 waiting for your comments. I am working on mine while that tune is stuck in my head.
(In December 2014, Joplin-based Childress Royalty co. agreed to a consent decree that called for the company to pay $810,918 to the EPA for costs it incurred responding to the cleanup efforts. Other PRP's paid little for cleanup or have taken chapter 11 Bankruptcy.)