Demolition Crews Tear Down Homes in Tar Creek Superfund Site Area

Monday, October 17th 2005, 6:10 pm

By: News On 6

Progress is being made in efforts to clean-up the Tar Creek superfund site.

For most of this year a trust authority, created by the state legislature, has been buying up lead contaminated property and moving the families who lived on it.

The buyout program is about over, and the last of the bought-out homes is coming down today.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells says the last of 38 homes is being demolished as part of Governor Henry's voluntary buyout program up in Picher, in Ottawa County.

It's a 7,000 square foot, two-story house that's been standing since 1946. The family who lived here last has relocated to Miami.

Late last year, eligible families - those with children aged 6 and younger - began applying for assistance in relocating from their contaminated property.

Years of lead mining in far Northeast Oklahoma have resulted in mountains of waste, and lead contaminated property. Dozens of tests have proven the lead contamination a danger to humans, particularly children.

The Oklahoma Legislature created a trust with a long name and a $3 million bankroll to help families with young children move out.

John Sparkman is the Vice Chairman of the Trust Authority that managed the buy out program.

He says the state has moved 55 families, and those people have been treated fairly.

"It's been fair to them," Sparkman said, "it's been fair to the taxpayers, we just need to push it one step further."

The average cost of each piece of property in the buyout was $40,000. The last was the most expensive at $228,000.

The property purchased in the buyout will be offered for re-sale, with the deed stipulation that no child aged six or younger can ever live on the property again.

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