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Tar Creek Pollution Called Regional Problem

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MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ A regional approach is needed to clean up mining pollution that spreads into portions of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said Thursday during a public conference.

EPA project manager John Meyer, speaking at the ninth annual National Conference on Tar Creek, also called for more testing of Oklahoma's Grand Lake.

There is some concern that algae blooms caused by the phosphorus pollution of the poultry industry could stir up heavy metals in the lake, making them more dangerous.

The Tar Creek area in far northeast Oklahoma has been one of the nation's worst environmental tragedies since it was designated a hazardous waste site in 1983. Old lead and zinc mines cause most of the problems.

Rebecca Jim, executive director of the Local Environmental Action Demanded agency, or L.E.A.D., which is hosting the two-day conference, said she worries that these metals will get into drinking water from the lake.

``We're sucking that water out every day to drink and every time you mix it up and stir it up and resuspend those metals, there's a possibility of the metals harming humans,'' she said. ``But nobody's studying that.''

She welcomed Meyer's call for a regional approach to the pollution problems, saying individual EPA offices have worked separate approaches to the issue in the past and this was not helpful.

A federal buyout is aimed at allowing some residents of the 40-square-mile Tar Creek Superfund Site to leave, but organizers of the conference want to ensure the environment is cleaned up in any case.

The slogan for the conference is ``You Cannot Buy Out Nature.''
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