Thursday, October 1, 2015

Challenges and Progress Cleaning Up One of Oklahoma’s Most Polluted Places

Meyer Ranch Passive Treatment System
Oct. 1, 2015
Joe Wertz
State Impact Oklahoma

The Tri-State Mining District in northeastern Oklahoma’s Ottawa County was once the world’s largest source of lead and zinc. The mines had closed by the 1970s, but pernicious pollution still plagues what is now known as the Tar Creek superfund site.

Click here for audio

“You read anecdotal accounts of the number of bars and restaurants and stuff like that,” says Bob Nairn, a professor at the University of Oklahoma and the director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds. “It was a booming place to be in those mining days.”

More than 11,000 men worked the mines during peak production in the 1920s. They produced about half the lead and zinc needed in World War I, and were the lifeblood of small Oklahoma towns like Cardin, Commerce and Picher.  Continue reading