Inhofe says Leavitt's first post-confirmation trip will be to Tar Creek

Wednesday, October 29th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency will make the Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeast Oklahoma his first post-confirmation trip, Sen. Jim Inhofe says.

Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt reaffirmed in a telephone conversation after Tuesday's confirmation vote that he plans to visit the site, Inhofe said.

``Governor Leavitt and I discussed his Tar Creek visit prior to his confirmation, and I am pleased that he has reinforced his commitment to inspecting the area straight away,'' Inhofe said.

No date has been set for the visit.

Leavitt succeeds former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman as head of the agency.

Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, helped guide Leavitt's nomination to an 88-8 vote.

Rep. Brad Carson, D-Okla., who has proposed a voluntary buyout of residents living at the center of the Tar Creek site's contamination, said the EPA in the past ``has been complacent, at best, and completely obstructionist, at worst.''

``This could potentially be a new day for that agency and for its new director, but rest assured, I will continue to hold their feet to the fire to make sure that the health and safety of the citizens of Tar Creek are kept in the forefront,'' Carson said.

Lead in the soil, collapses and open mine shafts are all lingering hazards that pose health and safety dangers in the 40-square mile former lead and zinc mining region.