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Quapaw Tribe Unhappy With Tar Creek Superfund Settlement

Cory Moates, owner of Moates Excavating, left, and Tim Kent, environmental director of The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, inspect ongoing chat disposal from a site near Quapaw in 2014. The pit is the top of a collapsed mine near Picher.
Rip Stell
/
The Journal Record
Cory Moates, owner of Moates Excavating, left, and Tim Kent, environmental director of The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, inspect ongoing chat disposal from a site near Quapaw in 2014. The pit is the top of a collapsed mine near Picher.

The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma says two companies aren’t offering enough money to help clean up the Tar Creek Superfund site.

The tribe asked a federal judge to reject a $15 million settlement with two companies that have responsibility for some of the hazardous waste at the site near Picher, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

In a consent decree filed last month in federal court, the DOJ announced that St. Louis mining company Doe Run Resources and Dallas-based NL Industries were willing to pay about $10 million between them to settle allegations of releasing hazardous material in areas around the small, now largely abandoned northeast Oklahoma town of Picher. The Department of Interior, the parent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, agreed to pay another $5 million, according to court documents.

But Quapaw Chairman John Berry told Denwalt his tribe wasn’t consulted:

The Quapaw have spent millions on cleanup at the Superfund site, which covers a broad swath of Ottawa County where lead and zinc mining operations left hundreds of millions of tons of waste. The largest piles of chalky remains from the mines, known as chat, still tower over the ghost town. Berrey said it could cost $1 billion to completely remediate the area. “I think the Department of Justice doesn’t give a crap about people in this part of the country,” he said. “They need to stop and listen to us, and get a fair deal to cover the high cost of this cleanup.”

The Department of Justice did not comment by press time Friday.

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