QUAPAW, Okla. (AP) _ The cancellation of a federally funded air-monitoring program at the Tar Creek Superfund site has affected a mining residue removal project. When funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was cut off for the monitoring program, the Bureau of Indian Affairs stopped the abatement of lead-contaminated mining residue or chat from Indian land, said John Berrey, Quapaw Tribe chairman.
The latter program was designed to remove mountains of chat from the Quapaw Indian lands in Superfund site located in northern Ottawa County. The waste accumulated from decades of zinc and lead mining in the area.
The EPA provided $175,000 from May 2006 to May 2007 for the air-monitoring program, said Sam Coleman, EPA Superfund Division director.
``This year, the Quapaw Tribe requested more money above what they requested last year, and we didn't have the funding in our budget,'' Coleman said.
Berry said air-monitoring stations were located where chat is being sold or removed. The chat was being sold and removed for uses the EPA determined to be environmentally safe, including asphalt for roads and highways, he said.
The chat sales program would have eliminated much of the chat at Tar Creek within a few years, and at the same time pay chat owners, he said.
Coleman said the agency has funds set aside for specific problems. In 2006, the agency agreed to help the tribe with the stipulation that the tribe obtain additional funding, he said.
Berrey disagreed, saying the tribe provided $80,000 to pay for manpower to operate the air monitoring stations.
``He (Coleman) promised they would solely fund the project,'' Berrey said.
On Thursday, the EPA announced a proposed plan for the next phase of Tar Creek cleanup that would, among other things, remove contaminated soil and provide alternative water sources for affected residents.
A 30-day public comment period on the proposed plan will begin July 30 and conclude Aug. 30.