DEQ was called immediately asking for the man in charge of asbestos sites in Oklahoma familiar with BFG, but he had retired and the new guy didn't know about the site, would look it up and get back with us. Our volunteer has left the state, but the site is here and a tempting place to take a walk about.
From our knowledge the only way left to be exposed to asbestos was to fall into the uncovered flooded basements, swim down a couple of levels grab some stuck to something, pry it off and bring it out of the water and dry it out. We remain concerned about the potential to cause harm left as it is. The current owner left the state, pays the taxes on the property to avoid the $10,000 a day fines that should be accumulating with DEQ.
There ought to be a way to be able to protect the public, clean up the site, deal with the benzene plume and rename the street after the other long standing building: Will Rogers, named after the man who never met the man who left that mess or the company that abandoned the town.
Waterkeeper Alliance asked all of their members to do a Clean Up in their watersheds in September. We listed it as an option for the Conference last week, A Walk to Tar Creek and Clean Up, but no one signed up for it. We were going to walk to the creek that runs through the NEO campus right to the spot Jason Miller loves and not clean up the creek. Because number 1, we don't have the multiple millions it would take Number 2, we are regular people and this is not a regular cleanup, this is a superfund site contaminated with heavy metals that are hazardous to people and obviously the environment. This will take a federal agency with big bucks to fund this, an agency and a program within it made special to handle this.
Even if we wanted to do a "regular cleanup" along the creek banks, pulling out debris and trash, should we? Every item would be covered with the superfund site metals and get all over us as we lift it and turn it to bag it. And where should the bag go? It would basically be toxic waste. Put it in the "regular" trash pickup?
How do we clean this place up? with power washers to the debris covered rocks? What about the fish eggs, the start of new life by the ones already taking up residences in our creek? Do we humans destroy other life to make our space look like we think "good" is?
We didn't have to explain this by the creek last week because no one signed up for the walk and cleanup. But imagine this creek gets her REAL CLEANUP and the metals are dealt with by the EPA through the Superfund Program created to be funded by fees placed on companies that manufacture substances that can pollute. So while we are imagining, we would include Congress re-authorizing that provision in the law so it is funded enough to do this cleanup with those fees and not be done with taxpayer funding from US.
THEN, we use the fire circle, Jason Miller brings his guitar, we have the cleanup and spend some time along the Tar Creek old timers remember singing the old songs and the news ones like the Tar Creek Anthem written by Jim Stricklan.
This week brought some time to rediscover our Community Garden and a young woman in it getting a couple of our home grown tomatoes who exclaimed they were the best birthday gift she had ever had.
She was a happy young woman vibrant active and as we pulled tomatoes and talked in the last light of the day, she told me I had been the woman who knocked on her door last year and found her beat up. But she got out of that relationship got a new life, a job and was totally unrecognizable now with her brand new life and tomatoes.
We can take the time to knock on a door, we can ask the big question, are you alright? Thousands of woman received help through the Community Crisis Center led by DeeDee Cox. Think of all the brand new lives she has been able to start.
I am hoping she in her retirement and they all get a garden going to share what they grow with the folks who wander by, and doing so ask those questions, are you alright? are you safe? Do you need help?
Our conference is available on the LEAD Agency Facebook page. Catch up and watch Channel 8 for the expansion of chicken houses in northeast Oklahoma series. Craig and Ottawa need to be concerned.
We care about water and all our efforts are needed to protect it. We require it for life.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim