Corps declares Tar Creek project a success

Thursday, July 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Picher-AP) -- The U-S Army Corps of Engineers says its cleanup project at the Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma is a success. But one Oklahoma congressman calls their claims laughable. The corps ended four years of lead removal today.

As proof of their success, the corps points to a reduction in blood lead levels in children who live near the former lead and zinc mining region. But U-S Representative Tom Coburn is critical of the corps' work at Tar Creek saying the Environmental Protection Agency was getting ready to kick them off the project.

Both the E-P-A and the corps says the corps chose to leave at the end of its contract. Coburn says he questions why the cleanup costs were more than double those of a similar job in nearby Joplin, Missouri. He also says hundreds of homes in Ottawa County now have drainage problems stemming from the corps' remedial work.

The corps responded saying the Joplin project involved more concentrated areas of lead. They also say record rainfall in 1999 delayed the project and drainage ditches to deal with the problem drove costs up.