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EPA gives final OK for buyout of contaminated town of Treece

Charles Moreland and daughter Acey, residents of Treece, wait in line outside Treece City Hall earlier this month to get their blood tested for lead.
Charles Moreland and daughter Acey, residents of Treece, wait in line outside Treece City Hall earlier this month to get their blood tested for lead. The Wichita Eagle

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is going forward with a buyout of residents in the contaminated community of Treece.

The announcement formalizes a plan that has been in the works for several months, since Congress approved a bill authorizing the EPA to spend approximately $3.5 million to empty Treece of its last 100 or so residents.A century of mining operations left the town surrounded by millions of tons of lead- and zinc-contaminated waste and dotted with sinkholes and cave-ins filled with polluted water.

Neighboring Picher, Okla., has already been bought out and shut down, stripping Treece of jobs, recreation and public services.

“Coping with this legacy of pollution has been an extraordinary challenge for this community,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. “It’s important that they have the support of their government and we’re happy to be able to offer assistance as they relocate to a safer, healthier place.”

The relocation is expected to cover 77 properties, the EPA said.“We hope this marks a new chapter of health and prosperity for the families of Treece,” Jackson said.

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