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Hazardous Waste: EPA's Cleanup of the Eagle-Picher Henryetta, Oklahoma, Site

GAO-03-1051R Published: Sep 05, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2003.
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From 1996 to 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a cleanup action on a former zinc smelter operated by Eagle-Picher Mining and Smelting, Inc. and other areas contaminated by materials from this site near Henryetta, Oklahoma. EPA's cleanup focused on removing the immediate health threat posed by lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil transported from the Eagle-Picher site to residential and other highly accessible areas. Cleanup actions on the Eagle-Picher site involved establishing proper drainage on the site, encapsulating the Eagle-Picher site with clay and cover soil, and establishing vegetative cover at the site to protect nearby residents from the recontamination from wind and water erosion of hazardous materials. Since completion of the cleanup, private landowners of a neighboring property have raised concerns about contamination of their property resulting from EPA's cleanup actions. Landowners allege that EPA, through its contractors, transported and negligently disposed of hazardous substances on their property. The landowners also allege that EPA's actions at the site contributed to the migration of contamination from the Eagle-Picher site onto their property. These landowners are currently pursuing litigation against EPA and the city of Henryetta for damages incurred as a result of the cleanup. EPA asserts that the cleanup met its objectives and successfully removed the immediate threat to human health and the environment. Congress asked us to provide information on (1) the environmental cleanup actions EPA conducted at the Eagle-Picher Henryetta site and (2) the actions EPA has taken in response to neighboring landowners' concerns related to the Eagle-Picher cleanup site.

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Environmental cleanupsEnvironmental monitoringEnvironmental policiesHazardous substancesHealth hazardsLand managementLitigationSoil remediationHazardous wastesLand ownership