DALLAS – Tar Creek is among those that have benefitted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Task Force guidance on accelerating cleanup efforts.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the completion of the task force Monday, Sept. 9 and issued its final report outlining significant accomplishments over the past two years at Superfund sites across the country.
The announcement included plans for integrating the work of the task force into EPA’s ongoing cleanup work moving forward.
“Focus on Tar Creek brought additional EPA funding for efforts by the Quapaw Nation to remediate contaminated segments of land long neglected,” said Rebecca Jim, executive director of the Local Environmental Action Demanded, Inc. (LEAD Agency).
“Children will benefit from these efforts and the continued funding for the state of Oklahoma to remove lead from soils in the yards where children live throughout Ottawa County.”
In March 2019, EPA issued the draft Strategic Plan to Improve Cleanup Progress at Tar Creek for public comment.
EPA Region 6 administrator Ken McQueen will announce the plan, developed in cooperation with the state of Oklahoma and the Quapaw Nation, during the 21st National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek next Tuesday at NEO, Jim said.
“The work of the Superfund Task Force over the past two years is paying dividends for communities nationwide, including those near the Tar Creek Superfund site,” McQueen said in a release. “EPA will continue working with our partners toward a cleanup that will benefit the surrounding communities.”
Commissioned in May 2017 to provide recommendations on how EPA could streamline and improve the Superfund Program, the Task Force issued its initial report in July 2017 with 42 recommendations in five goal areas.
Those included expediting cleanup and remediation, re-invigorating responsible party cleanup and reuse, encouraging private investment, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization, and engaging partners and stakeholders.
Tar Creek fell under the first goal, where the task force developed several tools to expedite cleanup and remediation at sites including the Administrator’s Emphasis List, a list of sites targeted for the administrator’s immediate and intense attention.
The agency will continue using the Emphasis List to focus on sites needing immediate and intense attention and will update the list quarterly.
Based on the collective experience of EPA’s career staff and others, the recommendations offered important suggestions for improving the program and expediting site cleanups through remediation and back to productive use.
By implementing the recommendations over the past two years, the Task Force has helped to provide certainty to communities, states, tribes and developers that the nation’s most hazardous sites will be cleaned up as quickly and safely as possible.
The work of the task force will continue under the Superfund Program and at all sites on the National Priorities List. The agency will continue to prioritize expediting cleanups to protect people’s health and the environment.