A private contractor begins bulldozing homes in Tar Creek Superfund site

Tuesday, August 30th 2005, 5:43 am
By: News On 6

PICHER, Okla. (AP) -- A wrecking crew begins razing homes in the Tar Creek Superfund site.

A backhoe took about 25 minutes to knock down one of the houses in Picher Monday. The demolition is scheduled for another 44 days and should cost about $170,000.

It's all part of a $5-million voluntary buyout program that allows families with children age six or younger to sell their homes and move away from the polluted area. Some 186 adults and children already have taken advantage of the program sponsored by Governor Brad Henry's office.

Picher and Cardin are located within a 40 square-mile site in northeastern Oklahoma where decades of mining left mountains of lead-contaminated waste and other problems. Local children have tested high for dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

John Sparkman is vice chairman of the state's relocation committee. He says buyout amounts ranged from $17,000 for some homes to $228,000 for a 7,000 square-foot house.

Renters also were given help with obtaining rental property of comparable housing elsewhere in the county for 12 months.