Fresh off success in cleaning up the Catholic Forty, part of the Tar Creek Superfund site, the Quapaw have signed an agreement to clean up two other sections of the massive contamination field left by various mining companies during decades of extraction.
The Catholic Forty project marked the first-ever Superfund cleanup project conducted by an American Indian tribe, the Quapaw Tribe said in a media release on June 4.
"We completed the first clean-up less expensively and better than previous efforts," said Quapaw Chairman John Berrey in the statement. "Our goal is to make this land useful and productive again. We live here and we care about the outcomes, so we are very pleased to have these two new agreements in place."
The new agreement marks the first state/tribe partnership project for Superfund cleanup and will involve cleaning up an area dubbed Chat Base 11 North, which is right next to the Catholic Forty, the Quapaw said. The project entails removing about 72,000 tons of contaminated material, the press release stated. It will be hauled to the Ottawa County repository.
It is one of two new Tar Creek cleanup projects included in the agreement with the Quapaw, the tribe said. One will be administered through the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and another through Region 7 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas City. For the second project, the tribe will partner with EPA Region 7 in cleaning up the Cherokee County Superfund site, for one.
Moreover, the precedent-setting agreement will be replicated in many projects in southeastern Kansas, the Quapaw said. In all, the Tar Creek Superfund site takes up 40 square miles sprawling over parts of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
It’s a far cry from 10 to 15 years ago, when the Quapaw fought to have a voice in cleaning up the mess made by mining.