The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 25, 2012

Oklahoma auditor to examine Tar Creek cleanup contract

PICHER, Okla. — A contract awarded for cleanup work at the Tar Creek Superfund Site is being examined for possible irregularities by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office.

Gary Jones, state auditor, in a telephone interview today, said the investigative audit was requested by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

“We received a request to look at something,’’ said Jones. “There are no details about that request.’’

Jones said the audit, when it is completed, will be turned over to Pruitt who will decide whether to release it or to give permission to the state auditor’s office to release it.

“The contents of the audit will be confidential until the attorney general releases it,’’ he said.

In the request to Jones, Pruitt identified 17 issues involving the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust that has overseen the buyout and relocation of residents at Cardin and Picher in Northeast Oklahoma since about 2006. The trust also has been responsible for the demolition and reclamation associated with the communities.

Andy Lester, an Edmond attorney who is representing the trust, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A clinic spokeswoman for Mark Osborn, M.D., said Wednesday morning that Osborn was seeing patients and unable to comment on the investigation.


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