Tar Creek Superfund Site
Tar Creek is considered one of the biggest environmental disasters in the history of the United States. This disaster was created from lead and zinc mining in Northeast Oklahoma. Lead and zinc leftover in chat piles would seep into groundwater, ponds, and lakes contaminating almost all water in the area. The people from small towns in the area such as Cardin and Picher are at high risk for lead poisoning, which can have long term health effects. Tar Creek has been pinpointed as the reason for high levels of learning disabilities in this area. This area was home to very popular lead and zinc mines during World War 1 and World War 2. “Over the years, the mining companies disposed of the chat by collecting it into large aboveground piles, and by dumping it into flotation or tailing ponds” (ATSDR). Quite often, waste materials from mining were dumped into exploration holes dug out to map mining areas. After the mining had stopped in the 1960’s, the mines flooded and these waste materials began to mix in with the rest of the water that filled the mine. Eventually, this water reached the surface and formed springs of contaminated water. “Highly contaminated acid mine water began flowing from the mine shafts in Ottawa County Oklahoma in 1979, just as predicted by the miners during the 1950’s and in 1977 by S.J. Playton of the USGS. This acid mine water undoubtedly impacted the aquatic and riparian communities of Tar Creek and other local streams and lakes” (www.tarcreek.org). There have been quite a few remediation efforts that have occurred in the area as a result of the “Oklahoma Plan for Tar Creek”. Four of the main objectives in remediating Tar Creek are to improve the quality of surface water, minimizing the amount of exposure to lead dust, tending to mine hazards such as sink holes, and just the reclamation of the land as a whole. “This plan effectively establishes more than a discrete set of cleanup projects; it also...
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