TAR CREEK cleanup

Saturday, June 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma has pledged $4.3 million to help clean up the Tar Creek Superfund site.

The state is required to partially match federal funds used for cleaning up the creek in the Picher-Cardin area. It is contaminated with wastes from a former lead and zinc mine.

The state's financial commitment, confirmed in a letter by Gov. Frank Keating and legislative leaders last week, will allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move ahead with the massive cleanup effort.

The EPA could spend up to $30 million on it, Keating spokesman Dan Mahoney said Friday.

Part of the project involves cleaning up soil in residential neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Keating said he still supports federal funding of a proposed wetlands project in the area.

The governor has invited EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to visit Tar Creek this month and consider his proposal, which would include a recreational wetland.

The project was recommended by the governor's task force on Tar Creek.

``I hope we can get the EPA administrator here soon to help approve several hundred million dollars,'' Keating said.

Keating said land for the proposed wetlands project is separate from the areas requiring cleanup.

A Harvard doctor's yearlong study of the Tar Creek site released recently indicated that high levels of metal in the area are causing health problems for residents.