Lead removal work to start in Miami area

Thursday, November 20th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) -- City workers will remove lead-contaminated soil and gravel from seven Miami parks as part of a larger cleanup of mining waste in northeast Oklahoma.

The work, expected to start after the first of the year, will cost $800,000 to $1 million and will be funded by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

It will focus on seven public parks in Miami where the Environmental Protection Agency found lead concentrations in excess of 500 parts per million.

The EPA has spent years scraping lead-contaminated soil from residential yards in nearby communities located in the Tar Creek Superfund Site. Children in some areas have shown dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

The Miami parks targeted for cleanup are not within the Superfund site, but EPA rules allow work anywhere in Ottawa County where mining waste has been spread.

Lead contamination in the parks apparently comes from the use of the waste as fill material.

Contaminated areas include parking lots, areas around concession stands and warning tracks in baseball outfields.

Some of the contaminated material will be encapsulated in concrete or asphalt without being removed from city parks. Another 18,000 cubic yards of soil and gravel will have to be moved to another site.

The EPA hired private contractors to handle other remediation work in and around the Superfund site, but residents and local officials have been critical of that work.

Using city workers "gives us control over the project and we can make sure that it is done the right way," Mayor Harrell Post said.

Lead and zinc mining in the region has left behind a host of other problems including 450 open mine shafts and acid mine water that turns Tar Creek orange.

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