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EPA Provides Funds To Expedite Buyout of Picher Residents

Release Date: 05/21/2008
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Tressa Tillman at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

(Dallas, Texas - May 21, 2008) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing $8 million in federal funding to the Oklahoma Department of Environment Quality (ODEQ) to expedite the buyout and relocation of residents of Picher, Oklahoma. The mining town is in the center of the Tar Creek Superfund site and was heavily damaged by a May 10 tornado that struck parts of northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri.

The funding will be made available in two segments. The first segment of $3 million was specifically directed by Congress for the relocation of Picher, Cardin and Hockerville residents. The second segment of $5 million is being made available through the federal Superfund program. This funding will provide assistance for the buyout of residents, and demolition or relocation of homes, businesses, and public use structures located in the disaster area.

“We appreciate Senator Inhofe’s leadership in securing additional funds to assist these communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “We are working closely with Oklahoma officials and the Relocation Trust to ensure that the victims of the tornado get the help they need.”

In response to the May 10 tornado, EPA Region 6 deployed its mobile Command Post and emergency response staff to Picher to conduct air monitoring and soil sampling. Analysis of the air and soil data indicate no health risks to residents or responders from the debris created by the tornado. EPA will continue to assist the community until tornado-related debris removal is completed.

EPA listed the Tar Creek Superfund site on its National Priorities List in 1983. The site is located in northeast Oklahoma and is part of the 1,188 square mile historic zinc and lead mines known as the Tri-State Mining District in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/region6

Tar Creek Area Tornado Information: http://www.deq.state.ok.us/TarCreekTornadoInfo.htm

Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust: http://www.environment.ok.gov/tarcreek.html

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