On October 5th – 7th, the Environmental Justice Clinic travelled to Miami, Oklahoma, to attend a client meeting between L.E.A.D. Agency, and the deputy assistant administrator for the U.S. EPA office of Land and Emergency Management, Cliff Villa, to discuss the ongoing impacts of the Tar Creek Superfund Site on surrounding communities.
The site was declared one of the first Superfund sites in the United States almost 40 years ago. It extends 40 square miles and is part of the Tri-State Mining District, which includes northeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, and southwestern Missouri. Lead and Zinc was mined on the site to support both World Wars in making bullets, bombshells, and prevention of rust on tanks. Mining operations ceased in 1970s and the remaining waste piles (chat) left on the surface are loaded with toxic metals affecting subsistence fishing, contaminating underground water, and mounting environmental and human health threats to surrounding communities— including several tribal nations and children who use the creek for swimming.