The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 4, 2012

Crews will begin dumping waste into mining pit in King Jack Park

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Crews could begin next week hauling acres of mining waste to Sucker Flats, an open pit mine in King Jack Park. It is part of the ongoing federal cleanup of the Tri-State Mining District.

The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, is evaluating another site west of Joplin as an additional dump site.

Mark Doolan, manager of the Jasper County Superfund Site for the EPA, said workers are building a haul road to the 100-foot-deep pit at King Jack Park. Although it is filled with 60 feet of water, Doolan said it has the capacity to store nearly 1 million cubic yards’ worth of mining waste and chat.

Currently, free-standing hazardous mining waste within a three-mile radius of the pit will be hauled there in tarp-covered trucks, he said.

“We’ve fenced enclosed roads and closed two entrances near the east side in preparation to start filling,” Doolan said. “The actual dumping should begin within a week or two and go on over the next year.”

It is the latest phase of a $19 million EPA cleanup in Jasper County and follows efforts to use the Oronogo Circle, another open pit mine near Oronogo that crews began filling this fall. Doolan said Monday that between 600,000 and 700,000 cubic yards of mining waste has already been dumped into the Oronogo pit, which has a capacity for 4 million cubic yards.

Moving mining waste to centrally contained sites, such as the Sucker Flats and the Oronogo Circle pits, allows the EPA to improve safety and health for residents, and also to reclaim the land that was previously unusable, Doolan said. Despite the fact that both pits contain water, Doolan said this method of storage is the safest option for the county, and tests at earlier containment sites near Waco indicated there is no long-term water contamination threat.

“We’ve done several studies showing that less of these metals leach back into surrounding water when they are placed under water in these pits and then capped,” Doolan said. “The metals basically will become inert over time.”

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