Minings Legacy

A Scar on Kansas

15 April 2010, 2:10 p.m.

Cities in Superfund site

The EPA announced Thursday approval of a plan to help in the relocation of residents in Treece, a southeast Kansas town that has been deemed dangerous to live in because of pollution from lead mining.

“Coping with this legacy of pollution has been an extraordinary challenge for this community,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

“It's important that they have the support of their government, and we're happy to be able to offer assistance as they relocate to a safer, healthier place,” Jackson said. “We hope this marks the beginning of a new chapter of health and prosperity for the families of Treece.”

At the urging of U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the EPA sent top officials to Treece in August. Several months later, the EPA determined that relocation of the residents was the best possible option, and Congress approved the relocation in October.

Residents in neighboring Picher, Okla., which faced similar problems and is also part of an EPA Superfund site, were relocated starting in June 2008.

Thursday’s announcement is the next step toward making relocation arrangements, the EPA said.

EPA has told the state of Kansas of steps it needs to take, including meeting the state’s 10 percent share of the relocation cost and preparing to assume responsibility for the bought-out land; developing a plan for implementing the buyouts; and holding public meetings to ensure residents are informed about the relocation process.

EPA has offered to make $300,000 available to help Kansas once a final determination is made.

The voluntary relocation assistance will be provided by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Approximately 77 residential and business properties are being considered in any buyout.

Return to:
Mining’s Legacy

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Geologist Jim McCauley

Photo slideshow

"A bad way to make a living"

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Former miner Walter Wettstein

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A landscape transformed

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Dave Drake, EPA project manager

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A tale of two cities

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Picher resident Jon Finn


River City Weekly

Video interview

Treece Mayor Bill Blunk

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Senator Pat Roberts

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Representative Doug Gatewood


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