The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 4, 2012

EPA provides Joplin with $2.4 million to clean up sites contaminated by tornado

When Dan Farren applied for a permit to rebuild his house after Joplin’s 2011 tornado, he was required to test his yard for the presence of lead and cadmium contamination.

Those test results showed high levels in his yard at 2206 and 2210 S. Kentucky Ave. “At that time, it was up to the homeowner” to pay to replace the tainted soil, Farren said. “Then I found out Joplin had gotten a grant.”

Farren’s yard was repaired from a $500,000 grant the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city late last year to fix properties affected by the tornado. On Thursday, the EPA announced that it is adding $2.4 million to continue the work of cleaning up properties where children could be exposed to the dangerous metals.

High lead and cadmium levels in children have been linked to learning difficulties. Exposure in adults is not shown to be as detrimental.

The award was announced at Parr Hill Park, where part of the money will be used to clean lead-tainted soil from playgrounds. The city also found lead contamination in Garvin Park at 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“We want to express our heartfelt thanks” to the EPA and other state and federal agencies that have worked beside residents in the aftermath of the storm, Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said at the announcement. “In making sure that Joplin is on the road to recovery, it is vital to have that cooperation.”

The EPA’s Region 7 administrator, Karl Brooks of Kansas City, and the deputy director of Superfund Remediation, Barnes Johnson of Washington, D.C., came to Joplin on Thursday to announce the new grant.

Brooks said the EPA has been working in the Joplin area for 20 years to clean up heavy metals from mining belts and yards. In recent years, the agency has been working to remove mine tailings in the former Oronogo-Duenweg Mining Belt and replace the material will clean soil that will allow development of the land to take place.

After the tornado, EPA workers tested air quality each day for several months for asbestos contamination to protect residents and workers who were clearing the debris. The agency also collected nearly 500 tons of household chemicals, appliances and electronics from the debris. “A lot of it was repurposed and recycled at zero cost to the taxpayer,” to keep it out of landfills, Brooks said.

Brooks remembers seeing the severity of the damage immediately after the tornado. “What none of us could immediately see was how much the storm and all of the recovery work had disturbed thousands of residential yards, playgrounds and other properties, exposing the public to toxic lead and cadmium,” he said.

City officials have said the twister tore through a section of Joplin that was a former mining town in the area of Cunningham Park. It also took down or damaged many houses that likely contained lead-contaminated chat in driveways or foundations. The residue was deposited throughout the tornado zone.

Brooks said the additional aid is aimed at helping property owners affected by the contamination who cannot rebuild until their soil is cleaned up.

Johnson said the first obligation of the EPA is the protection of health in the environment. The agency also is charged with mending hazards so that economic development can take place in areas that were blighted.

Sometimes federal agencies can be slow to act, but in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado, “It didn’t take us very long at all to see we needed to step up and realign our priorities,” Johnson said.

The EPA has spent $150 million on the Oronogo-Duenweg project. “We’ve seen substantial reductions in children’s lead levels” as a result, Johnson said.

He and Brooks said there likely will be more allocations for Joplin yard cleanup as funding is made available to the agency.

Farren said Rebuild Joplin is close to having his house finished, and, with a yard clean of contaminants, he will be able to live in it again.

“I’m very glad to see this come about,” he said of the additional EPA grant.

It is projected that the $2.4 million will pay for the cleanup of 250 properties.

The city currently has 78 applications pending, and 55 of those have been approved.

Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072814mailcar.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Train mail car trailered on Joplin's Main Street to Redings Mill

    With a police escort leading the way Monday, postal car No. 34 breezed through downtown Joplin en route to its new home in Redings Mill, where it was greeted by a welcome party of local residents and railroad enthusiasts.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter