We have grown cynical with 40 years of bad water flowing down Tar Creek, the #1 Superfund Site in the Nation, with all the resources EPA has had, to allow the BIG ONE to fester all these years and Tar Creek to still be running metals into that Grand Lake of theirs. We get hopeful when the Quapaws take down another chat pile and the landscape reclaims the look of the Plains with crops and grassland.
But we got miffed when BF Goodrich closed and the jobs left town, then went silent for 30 years with the discovery of the Benzene plume 10 feet below the neighborhood nearby. We didn't holler for nobody. We saw the "Remediator" take down some to the buildings on the site, haul off the metals he could sell and then disappear with his bankruptcy leaving the mess of rubble piles. Those rubble piles contained tons of then loosened asbestos and when we found out it was like a hush came over us. The hope the wind wouldn't blow from the west and into the schools. And we held our breath.
The kids at the Miami Academy woke up to that concern, wrote letters, made some ART and created their own movement and now 2.8 million dollars later, we are going to breathe out easier. People came out and asked some questions, got some answers from EPA's Mike McAteer and were treated with respect. That first Phase is about to be completed. Come to the 21st National Environmental Conference and hear what comes next at BF Goodrich. Come and help LEAD Agency award Mike with one of our Mike Synar Environmental Excellence Awards. But stay and help us start the movement we always needed.
At this year's conference we will have in the room at one time the 3 people who could put their heads together as one and make our homes and our lives safer, healthier quicker. Imagine if they saw a whole set of folks saying in unison, FIX ALL OF THIS MESS? We have not had this combination of people in power in the same room in Ottawa County since people put their minds together as one and struggled through and received the Buy-outs at Picher/Cardin. People have power. And we could use ours together.
The new Region 6 EPA Administrator, the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality all at once, here. This is the moment. You get a turn. You could see what a movement looks like, how it sounds, what a difference it could make in your lives and the lives of your grandchildren. Come try it on, sit yourself down in a chair in the Ballroom at NEO College and see what collective good can do.
If you have children who have been lead poisoned, who later struggled to get through school, who may not have reached their full potential and you might be raising their children, you will want our environment clean and every yard those children play in clean and lead free. If you want the legacy of BF Goodrich toxic waste removed, so the good memories of hard working men raising kids in the American Dream can resurface. If as a Quapaw you want your land reclaimed quicker. The list goes on to show, each of us have a reason to want our lives better and have a healthier community life. Come demonstrate in the simplest way ever, by sitting in a chair while the people in power over those decisions can see you there waiting, 40 years, 30 years.
Come early, Sept 16 at 4:00 bring your gloves for a 40 minute Tar Creek cleanup, come at 7:00 with a poem, for the Poetry Slam and draw a cartoon for the Cartoon Contest, judged by Tulsa World Cartoonist Bruce Plante.
There has never been a real movement without art. So we added it and you will experience it as you walk into the Ballroom with the Picher Echo Exhibit created by Sabrina Staires who has achieved a sort of visual poetry. Be part of the movement as the photos on silk display the echoes of the past.
We have a Vision for the Future and it all gets better with you in the movement.
As for the future, EPA breaks up the work at a superfund site in what they call Operable Units. The next one is OU5 and it is bank to bank streams, creeks, rivers and the water and sediment. A community meeting about this will be Wednesday Sept. 18 at 6:30 pm with a consultant who has broken the science down for non-scientists like me and some of you.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim