When Mining Attacks
April 9, 2009 3:16 AM Subscribe
Picher, Oklahoma was part of a major lead mining area in the central US until the middle of the last century, when the mines closed down. It is now the epicenter of the Tar Creek Superfund site. Residents live among mountains of mine tailings known as chat. Heavy metal poisoning is endemic in the area. With fits and starts, things do begin to get done about it, but only very slowly. To add insult to injury, Picher was struck by an EF-4 tornado on May 10th, 2008. The residents are finally suing over the long in coming buyout plan. Shockingly, the buyout plan was put into place with urgency not because of the lead, zinc, and cadmium poisoning, but because the mines are in danger of caving in. There is still word on when the mountains of debris will be removed, or the acid mine drainage stopped. Despite attempts to prevent further contamination in the 1980s and 90s, the waste is still poisoning local creeks and wildlife.
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