I have lots of questions and partly because of that, I figure others would have some too. Using this as a guide, the National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek is loaded with people who are experts in their fields of study. People who have something we need to know.
Why is the Neosho River silted in? What is running down our stream? Are there any streams here or elsewhere around the state healthy enough to be swimmable and though many are fishable, are the fish edible? And since we talk about fish, we planned a Fish Fry and the Afton Masons with help from the Miami Masons are going to make sure we get to have some.
What happens to our children's brains when they grow up in this environment, crawling on our dusty floors and carpets? Are there very many children lead poisoned anymore or is the crisis over? What other metals could be affecting our children and what damages can they cause?
In 1997 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a study on chat in Ottawa County. They did visual finds, looking for chat and found lots of it and then turned it over to EPA. How many of those sites have been cleaned up? What is the plan to revisit this report Ed Keheley found and have they already started marking them off the list that DEQ inherited?
Who is reading the newspapers from 100 years ago? Fredas Cook is and is posting articles straight from the microfiche like the one about the Eureka mine, the one Harry Truman thought he owned for awhile. One hundred years ago that mine filled up with water causing operations to stop. What resolved it and brought the workers back? Getting rid of the water. Did they use pumps? No, they simply drilled a hole in the floor of the mine and let the water out. Where did it go? Did they drill down far enough so the water joined the vast Roubidoux aquifer, the current drinking water in use in northeastern Ottawa County. If so, did other early mines used this technique? and what are the consequences now?
One of the experts who I wish would come is David Cates, with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. I call him Mr. Roubidoux, knowing the history and ways of the deep aquifer and the dangers from Boone aquifer encroachment. He could talk about hydraulic head and pretty soon everyone in the room would be shaking their head like, "I am getting this."
Suzanne Dunn from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called today and wanted to come. She has an important announcement, but saw on the leadagency.org site that the agenda was really full. She claims she can talk fast while people are eating but her announcement is one that she believes the public deserves to hear. I believe that, too, so we wedged her in.
Kelly Hunter Foster, the attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance has learned how nutrient loading is pollution that harms the waters we depend on, what the sources are and how to resolve this national problem. Reminding us all that we are all downstream people and what happens in our watershed affects us and everyone who ultimately drinks from our source.
Choosing the colors for the conference shirts each year is done early based on current issues. We decided right after the blue green algae in Grand Lake closed Bernice State Park right before July 4, that blue green had to be one of the colors and a good rust orange the other, since we continue to deal with the mine water discharges coming down Tar Creek.
Larry Tippet works with the Peoria Tribe in their environmental department. He always comes to these conferences, never takes his cowboy hat off and inevitability asks the questions I wish I could have thought clearly enough to have conjured up. I talked recently to Jim Shine one of the chemists from Harvard who did research here a decade ago telling him our annual conference is coming up. He got quiet then said, that fellow with the cowboy hat always asked me questions that made me have to think about the answer.
Over 700 mothers and babies were part of the MATCH study and will want to know what has been learned from their involvement. Many journal articles later, we have lots to learn from Dr. Robert Wright and what his team have found.
I have been wondering what is the status on the BF Goodrich site and how the Eagle Picher Laboratory cleanup is going, and we will find out together from the city of Miami and DEQ. The list goes on because the 2-day conference is full.
Come take notes, wear your thinking hat like Larry Tippit does and we will see you Sept. 26 and 27 at NEO A&M in the Ballroom. Call LEAD Agency at 918-542-9399 to register early or go on line www.leadagency.org, that way you won't miss a moment or anybody else's question.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim