Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  54 minutes
Date:  2012
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 9-12, College, Adults
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
You might also be interested in...

Tar Creek

New to the Global Environmental Justice Project? Please register and login to preview and/or license this film. If your institution has already licensed this film, you will need to access this page from your institution's network to watch the film. For help on using the Docuseek2 platform, please visit our help wiki.

Tells the incredible story of the Tar Creek Superfund site in NE Oklahoma and the massive and deadly remains left by the lead and zinc mines there.

Tar Creek

TAR CREEK is the story of the worst environmental disaster you've never heard of: the Tar Creek Superfund site. Once one of the largest lead and zinc mines on the planet, Tar Creek is now home to more than 40 square miles of environmental devastation in northeastern Oklahoma: acid mine water in the creeks, stratospheric lead poisoning in the children, and sinkholes that melt backyards and ball fields.

Now, almost 30 years after being designated for federal cleanup by the Superfund program, Tar Creek residents are still fighting for decontamination, environmental justice, and ultimately, the buyout and relocation of their homes to safer ground. As TAR CREEK reveals, America's Superfund sites aren't just environmental wastelands; they're community tragedies, too...until the community fights back.

No classroom resources available.

WEBVTT

00:00:01.000 --> 00:00:02.266
- Will Rogers once said...

00:00:02.267 --> 00:00:04.366
Somebody asked him about land,
and he said,

00:00:04.367 --> 00:00:06.966
\"Well, they just
don\'t make much of it anymore.\"

00:00:06.967 --> 00:00:10.166
And we need... the Lord intends
for us to be good stewards

00:00:10.167 --> 00:00:13.299
of what he gave us,
and we did a terrible job here.

00:00:13.300 --> 00:00:15.566
We did a terrible job.

00:00:15.567 --> 00:00:20.332
- [singing] Oh

00:00:20.333 --> 00:00:26.599
Seen life, seen life

00:00:26.600 --> 00:00:27.932
- Knew nothing about Picher.

00:00:27.933 --> 00:00:30.166
I\'d spent half
of a football game

00:00:30.167 --> 00:00:32.532
in Picher, Oklahoma,
back in 1984.

00:00:32.533 --> 00:00:34.032
It was dark.

00:00:34.033 --> 00:00:37.132
Didn\'t have the opportunity
to appreciate the scenic view

00:00:37.133 --> 00:00:39.966
that Picher offers
with the chat piles,

00:00:39.967 --> 00:00:43.699
so I knew nothing, really,
about Picher at all.

00:00:43.700 --> 00:00:47.666
It became obvious fairly quickly
to me that, you know,

00:00:47.667 --> 00:00:49.666
we had a higher percentage
of kids

00:00:49.667 --> 00:00:53.366
that demonstrated more
difficulty in the classroom.

00:00:53.367 --> 00:00:58.432
Super kids, but they had...
They struggled.

00:00:58.433 --> 00:01:04.632
- We knew we had some problems
with the kids out there.

00:01:04.633 --> 00:01:08.666
- Little Chad...
I kind of hesitate to, you know,

00:01:08.667 --> 00:01:10.732
delve into it,
talk that much about it,

00:01:10.733 --> 00:01:15.966
because, well, he is our son,

00:01:15.967 --> 00:01:19.599
and we want him to be as normal

00:01:19.600 --> 00:01:25.532
as anybody else\'s kids,
you know.

00:01:25.533 --> 00:01:27.166
He has problems.

00:01:27.167 --> 00:01:30.399
- And I said, \"Well, you need
to come down here and see

00:01:30.400 --> 00:01:32.599
what we\'ve got.\"

00:01:32.600 --> 00:01:34.399
And I said,
\"It\'ll blow your mind.\"

00:01:34.400 --> 00:01:37.232
So they run up here and took
a bunch of blood samples

00:01:37.233 --> 00:01:40.232
from these
Quapaw Indian children.

00:01:40.233 --> 00:01:43.199
And, man, they found
high lead counts.

00:01:43.200 --> 00:01:45.566
That\'s when it started,
right there.

00:01:45.567 --> 00:01:47.232
But, see, they wouldn\'t ever
come in here

00:01:47.233 --> 00:01:49.232
and check the kids in Picher.

00:01:49.233 --> 00:01:51.332
The health department wouldn\'t...
Oklahoma.

00:01:51.333 --> 00:01:54.732
But then they started checking,
and they found a monster.

00:01:54.733 --> 00:01:59.199
- [singing] Ooh

00:01:59.200 --> 00:02:03.866
Oh, oh, oh

00:02:03.867 --> 00:02:09.032
That old white line

00:02:09.033 --> 00:02:12.700
Boys, is coming to an end

00:02:18.000 --> 00:02:19.599
- And so we actually went
door-to-door

00:02:19.600 --> 00:02:22.599
in the mining communities
and knocked on doors

00:02:22.600 --> 00:02:26.399
and found out how many people
had children six and under.

00:02:26.400 --> 00:02:29.699
And could we do lead testing
on those children?

00:02:29.700 --> 00:02:32.432
And we tested
a little over 100 kids

00:02:32.433 --> 00:02:35.832
and found out that 43% of those
kids had elevated blood leads.

00:02:35.833 --> 00:02:36.999
Myers: [whistles]

00:02:37.000 --> 00:02:40.766
- So the extent of that
was really shocking.

00:02:40.767 --> 00:02:44.299
- And the EPA came and did
a risk assessment,

00:02:44.300 --> 00:02:45.532
human health risk assessment,

00:02:45.533 --> 00:02:48.266
as well as finally did
a record of decision,

00:02:48.267 --> 00:02:50.466
and they felt like
the primary risk...

00:02:50.467 --> 00:02:52.832
Or primary pathway
was through dirt.

00:02:52.833 --> 00:02:55.432
And some of the yards
tested very high

00:02:55.433 --> 00:02:57.732
in terms of lead toxicity.

00:02:57.733 --> 00:02:59.699
When you think about
where kids get lead,

00:02:59.700 --> 00:03:02.532
they\'re really at increased risk
for a couple of reasons.

00:03:02.533 --> 00:03:05.732
One is, a child absorbs
more lead through the gut

00:03:05.733 --> 00:03:08.299
than an adult does,
about 50% more.

00:03:08.300 --> 00:03:10.899
But with
pediatric lead toxicity,

00:03:10.900 --> 00:03:13.832
it causes what we call
developmental issues.

00:03:13.833 --> 00:03:18.066
It\'s only of importance between
zero and six years of age,

00:03:18.067 --> 00:03:20.266
and it affects the developing
neurologic system,

00:03:20.267 --> 00:03:23.566
mostly what we consider
to be soft neurologic signs:

00:03:23.567 --> 00:03:26.099
school issues
more than medical issues.

00:03:26.100 --> 00:03:27.399
So that\'s really the difference.

00:03:27.400 --> 00:03:30.699
The trouble is, you can\'t
ever make that go away.

00:03:30.700 --> 00:03:33.232
Once it occurs, it\'s permanent.

00:03:33.233 --> 00:03:35.632
Myers: How does a place
get this bad?

00:03:35.633 --> 00:03:37.832
Some old cities are colored
with lead paint,

00:03:37.833 --> 00:03:40.132
yet you don\'t hear
of levels this high.

00:03:40.133 --> 00:03:42.299
When you tell someone
about lead poisoning like this,

00:03:42.300 --> 00:03:45.866
they need an explanation,
but words don\'t quite do it.

00:03:45.867 --> 00:03:50.332
And with this much lead waste,
43% feels like a success;

00:03:50.333 --> 00:03:52.632
it could have been 100%.

00:03:52.633 --> 00:03:54.132
People don\'t realize
that Tar Creek

00:03:54.133 --> 00:03:55.532
was declared a disaster

00:03:55.533 --> 00:03:59.332
a decade before they even
discovered the lead poisoning.

00:03:59.333 --> 00:04:00.799
But they checked the kids

00:04:00.800 --> 00:04:02.632
ten years after the land
had been condemned

00:04:02.633 --> 00:04:05.199
without thinking one
might be connected to the other.

00:04:05.200 --> 00:04:07.832
Back then, they thought
if you fixed the soil,

00:04:07.833 --> 00:04:09.932
that would fix the children.

00:04:09.933 --> 00:04:14.132
But you can\'t fix this land
while the waste sits here.

00:04:14.133 --> 00:04:15.566
And you can\'t leave kids here

00:04:15.567 --> 00:04:18.832
while you take several decades
to move all of it.

00:04:18.833 --> 00:04:20.999
Well, I thought they couldn\'t.

00:04:21.000 --> 00:04:25.632
- When they took ore, the rock,
out of the ground,

00:04:25.633 --> 00:04:28.166
within that rock,
there are all of the minerals

00:04:28.167 --> 00:04:31.232
they were looking for: lead,
zinc, cadmium, everything else.

00:04:31.233 --> 00:04:34.399
And they would crush it,
break it,

00:04:34.400 --> 00:04:36.766
smelt it to get
the minerals out,

00:04:36.767 --> 00:04:38.166
to get the metals out.

00:04:38.167 --> 00:04:42.099
And then the little chips
of rock that are left,

00:04:42.100 --> 00:04:43.999
we call it chat.

00:04:44.000 --> 00:04:45.199
Well, it\'s tailings.

00:04:45.200 --> 00:04:46.566
It\'s the tailings
from the mines,

00:04:46.567 --> 00:04:50.966
what\'s left over
from the stuff they didn\'t use.

00:04:50.967 --> 00:04:53.366
- They\'re real inviting.

00:04:53.367 --> 00:04:56.332
You know, I have to admit it
myself, as an adult,

00:04:56.333 --> 00:04:59.166
when I first saw the chat piles,
I just...

00:04:59.167 --> 00:05:00.699
I just couldn\'t imagine

00:05:00.700 --> 00:05:03.066
how it wouldn\'t be
the funnest thing in the world

00:05:03.067 --> 00:05:06.466
to get up there
and roll down them,

00:05:06.467 --> 00:05:11.566
slide down them,
four-wheel down them, anything.

00:05:11.567 --> 00:05:15.532
As a child, can you just imagine
looking at something

00:05:15.533 --> 00:05:18.332
that looks like
a gigantic sand pile

00:05:18.333 --> 00:05:21.466
and be told,
\"No, you can\'t go up there.\"

00:05:21.467 --> 00:05:23.132
I can\'t imagine that.

00:05:23.133 --> 00:05:25.199
- We used to also play on \'em.

00:05:25.200 --> 00:05:27.566
In the wintertime
when the snow and ice is on,

00:05:27.567 --> 00:05:31.566
we used to go
to a local salvage yard

00:05:31.567 --> 00:05:33.199
and get a car hood.

00:05:33.200 --> 00:05:35.766
And you\'ve never had a good time
till you come off

00:05:35.767 --> 00:05:40.666
one of these chat piles
with snow and ice with the...

00:05:40.667 --> 00:05:44.266
In a car hood, especially
with two or three aboard.

00:05:44.267 --> 00:05:45.466
- Picher and Cardin,

00:05:45.467 --> 00:05:47.199
that\'s where
most of the risk would be,

00:05:47.200 --> 00:05:49.966
because you have so much metals
on the surface

00:05:49.967 --> 00:05:51.632
still surrounding the area.

00:05:51.633 --> 00:05:55.232
And even if my yard\'s clean,
if I\'m a little kid,

00:05:55.233 --> 00:05:57.166
you\'d be hard-pressed
to keep me from playing

00:05:57.167 --> 00:05:59.199
out in some of those areas
at least, you know.

00:05:59.200 --> 00:06:02.866
I\'d be off doing something.

00:06:02.867 --> 00:06:06.166
- I mean, at one time,
the Eagle Picher Mine itself

00:06:06.167 --> 00:06:07.866
was 1/4 mile high.

00:06:07.867 --> 00:06:10.099
You could see it
from downtown Main

00:06:10.100 --> 00:06:13.199
of Miami, Oklahoma.

00:06:13.200 --> 00:06:14.532
- You\'d go away,
and you\'d think,

00:06:14.533 --> 00:06:16.332
\"Man, there are some
really big piles there,\"

00:06:16.333 --> 00:06:19.366
and you\'d remember the biggest,
hugest, four, five, six piles

00:06:19.367 --> 00:06:21.566
right there around Picher.

00:06:21.567 --> 00:06:25.032
But you keep driving around,
you know, for miles,

00:06:25.033 --> 00:06:26.399
and you forget, \"Oh, yeah,

00:06:26.400 --> 00:06:28.499
\"there\'s chat bases over here
where piles used to be.

00:06:28.500 --> 00:06:30.166
\"Oh, yeah,
there\'s mill ponds over here.

00:06:30.167 --> 00:06:31.932
\"Oh, yeah, there\'s piles
the size of a house

00:06:31.933 --> 00:06:33.532
that I forget about,\"

00:06:33.533 --> 00:06:34.999
or the size
of an office building

00:06:35.000 --> 00:06:37.066
that you forget about
because they\'re just dwarfed

00:06:37.067 --> 00:06:39.466
by the big ones.

00:06:39.467 --> 00:06:42.932
The volume here is hard
to describe.

00:06:42.933 --> 00:06:47.432
- People don\'t realize
how mined-out it is.

00:06:47.433 --> 00:06:52.532
The chat piles up there,
they\'re humongous,

00:06:52.533 --> 00:06:57.132
but most of that
has been hauled away.

00:06:57.133 --> 00:07:01.699
- A problem with moving chat
in that what\'s left behind

00:07:01.700 --> 00:07:03.666
is far more dangerous
than what they take.

00:07:03.667 --> 00:07:06.399
What\'s left behind
are the small fine materials,

00:07:06.400 --> 00:07:08.666
which are much
more bioavailable,

00:07:08.667 --> 00:07:13.399
which means that they can be
absorbed easier by the stomach.

00:07:13.400 --> 00:07:16.199
And secondly, they\'re also
much higher in lead content,

00:07:16.200 --> 00:07:20.332
about 1,000 times higher
in lead content

00:07:20.333 --> 00:07:24.032
than the gravel people
associate with the word \"chat.\"

00:07:24.033 --> 00:07:26.099
- Most of the chat piles
you see out there

00:07:26.100 --> 00:07:28.699
are made of this
coarse material,

00:07:28.700 --> 00:07:30.699
but then this other group,

00:07:30.700 --> 00:07:37.499
larger concentrations of metals
are in this size of mine waste.

00:07:37.500 --> 00:07:39.499
Of course, you can imagine
that this stuff\'s

00:07:39.500 --> 00:07:43.299
not going to blow
near as much as this stuff.

00:07:43.300 --> 00:07:47.332
So this, these fine particles,
get blown around,

00:07:47.333 --> 00:07:49.532
and they have
the highest concentrations

00:07:49.533 --> 00:07:50.832
of metals in them.

00:07:50.833 --> 00:07:53.932
If it gets deposited
in a residential yard,

00:07:53.933 --> 00:07:55.499
children can ingest it.

00:07:55.500 --> 00:07:58.166
You know, it\'s just
a lot more mobile.

00:07:58.167 --> 00:08:00.599
A long time ago,
residents in Picher

00:08:00.600 --> 00:08:05.267
used to come out on Sunday
and have picnics on the beach.

00:08:07.667 --> 00:08:12.666
They were actually having
picnics on these fine tailings.

00:08:12.667 --> 00:08:15.766
- I had been doing some research
about lead poisoning

00:08:15.767 --> 00:08:17.566
and the effects
on lead poisoning

00:08:17.567 --> 00:08:21.932
and was looking through
a tiny little publication

00:08:21.933 --> 00:08:23.266
that comes out.

00:08:23.267 --> 00:08:25.366
Had found that exposure to lead

00:08:25.367 --> 00:08:27.832
between ages 7 and 21

00:08:27.833 --> 00:08:30.832
led to extreme obesity
in later life.

00:08:30.833 --> 00:08:33.366
And as a high school counselor

00:08:33.367 --> 00:08:37.332
dealing with young people
with eating disorders

00:08:37.333 --> 00:08:40.732
and with youth
that have trouble learning...

00:08:40.733 --> 00:08:43.066
Had a lot of dealings
with those kind of kids.

00:08:43.067 --> 00:08:45.732
And one particular student
stood out to me,

00:08:45.733 --> 00:08:48.899
and I knew
that she\'d grown up in Quapaw

00:08:48.900 --> 00:08:51.799
and she had a chat pile
on her property.

00:08:51.800 --> 00:08:56.166
Her dad had built her a sandbox.

00:08:56.167 --> 00:08:59.466
And in that sand,
he\'d taken not the gravel,

00:08:59.467 --> 00:09:03.966
but he had taken the fines.

00:09:03.967 --> 00:09:07.666
- There\'s no doubt in my mind
that somebody knew

00:09:07.667 --> 00:09:11.600
what lead could possibly do
to your health.

00:09:13.733 --> 00:09:15.599
And they didn\'t tell nobody.

00:09:15.600 --> 00:09:21.999
[bluesy acoustic guitar music]

00:09:22.000 --> 00:09:23.099
Myers: With this much chat,

00:09:23.100 --> 00:09:25.432
the kids
didn\'t hardly stand a chance.

00:09:25.433 --> 00:09:27.999
And I wish I could say that all
the problems begin and end

00:09:28.000 --> 00:09:29.999
with chat piles
and elevated blood leads

00:09:30.000 --> 00:09:32.299
or that there was
only one problem to solve.

00:09:32.300 --> 00:09:34.466
But this chat is just
a throwaway

00:09:34.467 --> 00:09:36.999
from one of the largest
lead strikes on the planet.

00:09:37.000 --> 00:09:40.432
Tri-State produced
35% of all metals worldwide

00:09:40.433 --> 00:09:42.332
for over a decade.

00:09:42.333 --> 00:09:44.132
Every one of these problems

00:09:44.133 --> 00:09:47.032
was struck from the walls
in these mines.

00:09:47.033 --> 00:09:49.632
Now, we did need this metal
during the World Wars,

00:09:49.633 --> 00:09:54.366
so the government kept
these mines humming.

00:09:54.367 --> 00:09:56.999
Remember that rock
I was talking about?

00:09:57.000 --> 00:10:00.266
Yeah, this is where
those ripples start.

00:10:00.267 --> 00:10:02.832
- My grandfather, he was the one

00:10:02.833 --> 00:10:06.166
that discovered the lead
and zinc at Commerce

00:10:06.167 --> 00:10:11.732
way back, oh,
probably around 1904.

00:10:11.733 --> 00:10:14.232
But they was drilling
a water well

00:10:14.233 --> 00:10:18.132
on the southwest
part of Commerce.

00:10:18.133 --> 00:10:21.099
Grandpa got a hold of them
and told them to get back here,

00:10:21.100 --> 00:10:24.032
that they had something big.

00:10:24.033 --> 00:10:26.966
- The Picher Field sprung up
about 1912,

00:10:26.967 --> 00:10:29.366
and when the Picher Field
got started,

00:10:29.367 --> 00:10:33.332
it was the wealthiest strike
that they had had yet.

00:10:33.333 --> 00:10:36.399
- They put me on
a powdering job.

00:10:36.400 --> 00:10:39.599
The two powder monkeys...

00:10:39.600 --> 00:10:41.566
That\'s the guys that loads
the dynamite

00:10:41.567 --> 00:10:44.666
into the drill holes.

00:10:44.667 --> 00:10:47.199
The only time
I was really scared

00:10:47.200 --> 00:10:51.232
was when I would hit
that stick of dynamite

00:10:51.233 --> 00:10:54.466
and them machine men,
the guys that drilled the holes,

00:10:54.467 --> 00:10:56.399
would turn that machine on,

00:10:56.400 --> 00:10:59.032
and it was really loud
when they turned that on.

00:10:59.033 --> 00:11:00.999
I mean, you hit that dynamite,

00:11:01.000 --> 00:11:02.766
and then they
turn that machine on,

00:11:02.767 --> 00:11:05.799
and you kind of flinch
a little bit, you know.

00:11:05.800 --> 00:11:11.232
- I started in summer of 1941.

00:11:11.233 --> 00:11:12.832
I was 16.

00:11:12.833 --> 00:11:17.166
I went to service early in \'43,

00:11:17.167 --> 00:11:22.299
and my ship got hit
by a kamikaze

00:11:22.300 --> 00:11:27.099
early in \'44,
and I was discharged.

00:11:27.100 --> 00:11:29.366
And when I came back
from the Navy,

00:11:29.367 --> 00:11:31.966
I went to work in the ground
with my dad over at old Dobson.

00:11:31.967 --> 00:11:34.199
It was kind of funny,
because he was still

00:11:34.200 --> 00:11:35.266
pretty much of a horse.

00:11:35.267 --> 00:11:37.532
He could shovel that dirt.

00:11:37.533 --> 00:11:40.332
So I went to shoveling
over there.

00:11:40.333 --> 00:11:42.432
The lay-by was over here,

00:11:42.433 --> 00:11:46.632
and they\'d bring in
a seven-can string of empties,

00:11:46.633 --> 00:11:49.432
and he\'d get five of those
while I was getting two,

00:11:49.433 --> 00:11:52.332
and I liked to kill myself
trying to catch up with him.

00:11:52.333 --> 00:11:54.799
- And he was a screen ape.

00:11:54.800 --> 00:11:58.432
Making little ones out of
big ones with a sledgehammer.

00:11:58.433 --> 00:12:00.632
[laughter]

00:12:00.633 --> 00:12:04.099
And that...
That is a job at times,

00:12:04.100 --> 00:12:07.666
especially when they would go in
there and shoot down the roof.

00:12:07.667 --> 00:12:09.799
When they shoot down the roof,

00:12:09.800 --> 00:12:12.866
it just brings
a lot of rock down,

00:12:12.867 --> 00:12:17.632
boulders as big as cars
and things like that, you know.

00:12:17.633 --> 00:12:20.399
It grows on a person
to work in the mines,

00:12:20.400 --> 00:12:24.099
the temperature,
and I liked the smell.

00:12:24.100 --> 00:12:25.732
When we was kids,

00:12:25.733 --> 00:12:28.832
we played around the shafts
in Commerce, you know,

00:12:28.833 --> 00:12:31.966
and we\'d always go in
them shafts and smell the shaft,

00:12:31.967 --> 00:12:35.632
that air coming out of them.

00:12:35.633 --> 00:12:38.600
- [singing]
Boy, don\'t you cry for me

00:12:42.867 --> 00:12:45.699
- Everyone knows about
the Trail of Tears

00:12:45.700 --> 00:12:48.432
of the Cherokee Nation.

00:12:48.433 --> 00:12:51.699
All 39 tribes in Oklahoma

00:12:51.700 --> 00:12:54.132
have a Trail of Tears story.

00:12:54.133 --> 00:12:56.766
The Quapaws are no exception.

00:12:56.767 --> 00:12:59.532
- The Quapaws are originally
from the Mississippi Delta.

00:12:59.533 --> 00:13:03.099
The mouth of the Arkansas River,
Mississippi River,

00:13:03.100 --> 00:13:06.132
all the way across southern
Oklahoma was our original lands.

00:13:06.133 --> 00:13:10.999
- They were discovered there
in 1767 by the French,

00:13:11.000 --> 00:13:13.799
and at the time of discovery,
it was estimated

00:13:13.800 --> 00:13:18.732
that the Quapaws could field
7,000 to 8,000 warriors,

00:13:18.733 --> 00:13:22.332
which put the estimate
of population

00:13:22.333 --> 00:13:24.732
at about 35,000 Quapaw.

00:13:24.733 --> 00:13:27.666
The major village was O-Gah-Pah.

00:13:27.667 --> 00:13:30.699
Today they call themselves
O-Gah-Pah.

00:13:30.700 --> 00:13:35.299
\"Quapaw\" is a French perversion
of \"O-Gah-Pah,\"

00:13:35.300 --> 00:13:40.366
and it just kind
of fell that way.

00:13:40.367 --> 00:13:46.966
So here in 1767,
a smallpox plague hits the tribe

00:13:46.967 --> 00:13:50.566
and begins to wipe them out,

00:13:50.567 --> 00:13:52.032
and you can read it
in the record,

00:13:52.033 --> 00:13:53.232
in the Congressional record.

00:13:53.233 --> 00:13:54.432
I\'ve read it.

00:13:54.433 --> 00:13:57.832
It says that the Quapaws
are no longer the tribe

00:13:57.833 --> 00:13:58.966
they used to be.

00:13:58.967 --> 00:14:02.299
\"Quapaws do not have
the right to occupy

00:14:02.300 --> 00:14:05.532
\"the whole southern half
of Arkansas,

00:14:05.533 --> 00:14:08.966
\"and we need to take that
and give them a reservation

00:14:08.967 --> 00:14:10.966
more fitting
to their size.\"

00:14:10.967 --> 00:14:16.066
Then the Army
began rounding them up.

00:14:16.067 --> 00:14:22.432
In 1833, they made a treaty
with the remaining Quapaws

00:14:22.433 --> 00:14:25.066
to bring them
to where they are today,

00:14:25.067 --> 00:14:28.632
and they arrived here in 1835.

00:14:28.633 --> 00:14:31.399
And when they arrived
to this area,

00:14:31.400 --> 00:14:35.866
there was only
135 Quapaws remaining

00:14:35.867 --> 00:14:39.266
out of 35,000.

00:14:39.267 --> 00:14:43.199
- Back in 1830s,
they sent us here from Arkansas,

00:14:43.200 --> 00:14:44.932
and they drew a line on a map,

00:14:44.933 --> 00:14:48.932
and the only way we could be
Quapaws was inside that line.

00:14:48.933 --> 00:14:52.366
So we can\'t go anywhere else.

00:14:52.367 --> 00:14:55.367
[birds chirping]

00:15:02.567 --> 00:15:06.432
- So the Quapaws
are coming up in wagons.

00:15:06.433 --> 00:15:09.732
You know, it\'s 1835.

00:15:09.733 --> 00:15:13.500
And they\'re dropped off.
You know, \"This is your land.\"

00:15:15.167 --> 00:15:17.832
So they explore, you know,

00:15:17.833 --> 00:15:22.366
basically the east side
of the Spring River,

00:15:22.367 --> 00:15:24.866
and it\'s exactly the kind
of land they\'re used to.

00:15:24.867 --> 00:15:28.832
It\'s Ozark uplift.

00:15:28.833 --> 00:15:34.266
Looking, you know, across
the river is those high bluffs.

00:15:34.267 --> 00:15:42.267
And that big bluff right across
is called the Devil\'s Promenade.

00:15:43.067 --> 00:15:45.366
And the reason it\'s called
the Devil\'s Promenade

00:15:45.367 --> 00:15:47.666
is because, they got there,

00:15:47.667 --> 00:15:51.966
and they were working
on how to get across,

00:15:51.967 --> 00:15:55.899
see the rest of their land,
their new home,

00:15:55.900 --> 00:16:00.166
but the Devil was marching,

00:16:00.167 --> 00:16:04.332
parading up and down
the top of the bluff.

00:16:04.333 --> 00:16:09.799
And everyone who tried
to swim across drowned.

00:16:09.800 --> 00:16:12.532
And so they couldn\'t cross
the river, because the Devil,

00:16:12.533 --> 00:16:14.767
you know,
wouldn\'t let them across.

00:16:20.833 --> 00:16:23.199
Myers: The Quapaws were removed
from their original lands

00:16:23.200 --> 00:16:25.099
and placed right here
on a reservation

00:16:25.100 --> 00:16:29.866
inside Indian territory 70 years
before the ore was struck.

00:16:29.867 --> 00:16:33.132
Oklahoma wasn\'t even
a state back then.

00:16:33.133 --> 00:16:34.899
Most of the ore
was on Quapaw land,

00:16:34.900 --> 00:16:37.599
so the mining companies leased
tribal land and allotments

00:16:37.600 --> 00:16:40.466
to start this operation.

00:16:40.467 --> 00:16:44.232
A story about land is a story
about landowners.

00:16:44.233 --> 00:16:47.999
And this story is as much Quapaw
as it is American.

00:16:48.000 --> 00:16:49.532
And the Quapaw story
changed forever

00:16:49.533 --> 00:16:52.000
once the miners sunk
that first shaft.

00:16:54.767 --> 00:16:59.399
- They hit a huge vein
that moved northeast

00:16:59.400 --> 00:17:02.966
up through what\'s
now Cardin and Picher.

00:17:02.967 --> 00:17:05.566
That became the Picher Field.

00:17:05.567 --> 00:17:07.066
That was the boom,

00:17:07.067 --> 00:17:10.132
and it was a huge rush,
you know,

00:17:10.133 --> 00:17:14.666
of people into that area
to start leasing Quapaw land.

00:17:14.667 --> 00:17:17.766
And you could buy...
The Secretary of Interior

00:17:17.767 --> 00:17:21.199
would allow
40-acre leases.

00:17:21.200 --> 00:17:23.699
They stole land
from the Quapaw tribe

00:17:23.700 --> 00:17:26.599
to create the town of Picher,

00:17:26.600 --> 00:17:29.899
but for the roads
and for the town itself

00:17:29.900 --> 00:17:32.932
and schools and that kind
of thing, you know,

00:17:32.933 --> 00:17:35.966
they took...
They just took the land.

00:17:35.967 --> 00:17:40.232
- This was the largest
lead-mining district

00:17:40.233 --> 00:17:41.899
in the world at one time.

00:17:41.900 --> 00:17:44.832
So all the munitions
for World War I and a lot...

00:17:44.833 --> 00:17:47.466
Most of them for World War II,
on the American side,

00:17:47.467 --> 00:17:50.499
came from this area.

00:17:50.500 --> 00:17:53.966
So there was a huge incentive
to keep the mining going.

00:17:53.967 --> 00:17:58.132
Even at one time, the government
subsidized the mining to keep...

00:17:58.133 --> 00:17:59.932
Because it was
a strategic mineral.

00:17:59.933 --> 00:18:03.566
- The catch in the law

00:18:03.567 --> 00:18:06.766
was that if
the Secretary of Interior

00:18:06.767 --> 00:18:11.132
found any of the Indians
to be incompetent,

00:18:11.133 --> 00:18:15.432
then the Secretary of Interior
would manage their leases.

00:18:15.433 --> 00:18:18.699
- So the BIA was under
a lot of pressure

00:18:18.700 --> 00:18:21.399
to have these tribal members
sign mining leases.

00:18:21.400 --> 00:18:24.732
If you didn\'t lease
to the mining companies,

00:18:24.733 --> 00:18:28.166
BIA went to Congress and had
individual tribal members

00:18:28.167 --> 00:18:29.832
declared incompetent.

00:18:29.833 --> 00:18:34.899
- It turns out that most
of the incompetent Indians

00:18:34.900 --> 00:18:37.932
were the ones that had mines
on their property

00:18:37.933 --> 00:18:41.632
and were 1/4 blood or more.

00:18:41.633 --> 00:18:45.766
And the ones that were deemed
competent were the ones

00:18:45.767 --> 00:18:50.499
that were 1/4 blood or less
and didn\'t have mining leases,

00:18:50.500 --> 00:18:52.732
with rare exception.

00:18:52.733 --> 00:18:56.267
- The government had a lot of
hand in what went on out here.

00:18:59.500 --> 00:19:05.500
[slow blues music]

00:19:08.267 --> 00:19:10.932
Myers: Tar Creek is not a county
or town or neighborhood.

00:19:10.933 --> 00:19:13.432
It\'s the country\'s worst
environmental disaster,

00:19:13.433 --> 00:19:16.466
named after the creek
that runs through it.

00:19:16.467 --> 00:19:18.932
It\'s 47 square miles
of virgin prairie

00:19:18.933 --> 00:19:21.632
turned into permanent wasteland.

00:19:21.633 --> 00:19:24.266
They\'ve thrown a mint
of federal cash at Tar Creek,

00:19:24.267 --> 00:19:26.032
but you wouldn\'t know it.

00:19:26.033 --> 00:19:27.632
It\'s like Newton\'s Law:

00:19:27.633 --> 00:19:31.266
every action has an equal
and opposite reaction.

00:19:31.267 --> 00:19:33.266
You punch a wall,
that wall gets a hole,

00:19:33.267 --> 00:19:35.299
or your hand gets broken.

00:19:35.300 --> 00:19:37.966
They just beat the hell
out of this ground out here,

00:19:37.967 --> 00:19:41.332
and she came back swinging.

00:19:41.333 --> 00:19:42.866
- And then, of course,
we were declared

00:19:42.867 --> 00:19:44.366
a Superfund site back in 1983,

00:19:44.367 --> 00:19:47.499
so we\'ve been dealing
with this for a long time.

00:19:47.500 --> 00:19:49.199
- Yeah, the reason they call it
a Superfund

00:19:49.200 --> 00:19:52.066
is because Congress set aside
a large amount of money,

00:19:52.067 --> 00:19:55.832
plus they taxed oil companies
and chemical companies

00:19:55.833 --> 00:19:59.932
to put into this fund.

00:19:59.933 --> 00:20:02.699
And it grew to
a pretty large amount of money,

00:20:02.700 --> 00:20:05.799
and they called it
the Superfund.

00:20:05.800 --> 00:20:09.466
It was established
in the early \'80s to deal

00:20:09.467 --> 00:20:11.832
with these environmentally
contaminated sites

00:20:11.833 --> 00:20:15.732
where the responsible parties
either can\'t be located

00:20:15.733 --> 00:20:19.366
or are not
claiming responsibility.

00:20:19.367 --> 00:20:21.532
So the government has to take
over these sites

00:20:21.533 --> 00:20:24.332
and initiate the cleanup.

00:20:24.333 --> 00:20:26.599
- I remember hearing about
being the worst Superfund site

00:20:26.600 --> 00:20:28.166
in the country,
and that was based on...

00:20:28.167 --> 00:20:30.766
The EPA has a model they call
the Hazard Ranking System model,

00:20:30.767 --> 00:20:32.432
HRS model,

00:20:32.433 --> 00:20:34.632
and they\'ve changed it over
the years, but at the time,

00:20:34.633 --> 00:20:37.999
the way that model was set up,
this site scored very high.

00:20:38.000 --> 00:20:41.099
And of the original 411
or some-odd sites

00:20:41.100 --> 00:20:43.066
that were added to
the National Priorities List,

00:20:43.067 --> 00:20:45.632
this was the top-scoring site.

00:20:45.633 --> 00:20:48.632
- And once we were declared
a Superfund site,

00:20:48.633 --> 00:20:51.532
that was the beginning
of the end,

00:20:51.533 --> 00:20:56.032
because you just don\'t
bounce back from it.

00:20:56.033 --> 00:20:58.366
- The initial, primary focus
was on water quality,

00:20:58.367 --> 00:21:00.832
what they call
Operating Unit One.

00:21:00.833 --> 00:21:03.299
They came in, and they
tried to do some diking

00:21:03.300 --> 00:21:05.232
and that kind of stuff,
and it failed.

00:21:05.233 --> 00:21:08.399
- So Operable Unit One
was trying to solve

00:21:08.400 --> 00:21:09.632
the surface water impacts

00:21:09.633 --> 00:21:12.932
from the contaminated mine water
being discharged.

00:21:12.933 --> 00:21:14.966
Myers: About how much
was spent there?

00:21:14.967 --> 00:21:16.632
- About $8 million.

00:21:16.633 --> 00:21:21.166
- Their theory was:
water in equals water out.

00:21:21.167 --> 00:21:22.466
Doesn\'t work that way.

00:21:22.467 --> 00:21:25.166
Back during the mining,
they had to pump 24/7

00:21:25.167 --> 00:21:29.699
to get rid of all of the water
that was in the Boone Aquifer

00:21:29.700 --> 00:21:31.466
where the mines were located at.

00:21:31.467 --> 00:21:33.999
You had tremendous amounts
of water

00:21:34.000 --> 00:21:35.399
that you had to deal with.

00:21:35.400 --> 00:21:38.599
It just wasn\'t surface water
causing this problem.

00:21:38.600 --> 00:21:42.732
- In the mid-\'90s, the focus
became lead issues in children,

00:21:42.733 --> 00:21:46.632
and it was kind of
a national trend for the EPA.

00:21:46.633 --> 00:21:48.166
If they saw
elevated lead levels,

00:21:48.167 --> 00:21:49.167
they moved dirt.

00:21:49.167 --> 00:21:50.167
That\'s what they did.

00:21:50.168 --> 00:21:51.899
- We had an unusual
situation here.

00:21:51.900 --> 00:21:54.332
That caused
a new effort out here,

00:21:54.333 --> 00:21:55.566
and that\'s when EPA

00:21:55.567 --> 00:21:59.199
designated the surface soils
Operable Unit Two.

00:21:59.200 --> 00:22:01.599
EPA hired the Corps of Engineers
as their prime contractor

00:22:01.600 --> 00:22:04.166
to come in and do yard cleanups.

00:22:04.167 --> 00:22:05.832
It\'s pretty simple.

00:22:05.833 --> 00:22:07.932
You go out, and you dig up
some dirt out of the yard.

00:22:07.933 --> 00:22:09.166
You bring in new, clean dirt.

00:22:09.167 --> 00:22:11.266
Take the top six inches
where it\'s hot,

00:22:11.267 --> 00:22:13.299
where it\'s above
the cleanup standard.

00:22:13.300 --> 00:22:16.266
If you have some below that
in that spot,

00:22:16.267 --> 00:22:18.499
you take the next
six inches, et cetera.

00:22:18.500 --> 00:22:24.566
- They came in, and they spent
$80,000 to redo my yard.

00:22:24.567 --> 00:22:29.032
They dug out about
three feet deep

00:22:29.033 --> 00:22:31.466
all around my four lots.

00:22:31.467 --> 00:22:33.232
Myers: What was the damage
on that?

00:22:33.233 --> 00:22:36.399
- The best estimate
I\'ve gotten from EPA

00:22:36.400 --> 00:22:38.200
is a little over $130 million.

00:22:42.867 --> 00:22:46.899
- The average cost to remediate
a yard by the EPA

00:22:46.900 --> 00:22:50.800
was $70,000 per house.

00:22:58.100 --> 00:23:01.266
In... I believe it was \'95,

00:23:01.267 --> 00:23:03.599
I had some EPA officials
come to my office,

00:23:03.600 --> 00:23:05.699
and they told me
what they wanted to do.

00:23:05.700 --> 00:23:08.399
I said, \"Come go with me.\"

00:23:08.400 --> 00:23:09.866
So we all got in my pickup,

00:23:09.867 --> 00:23:11.866
and I drove them up
on a chat pile.

00:23:11.867 --> 00:23:13.899
And I said, \"You folks think

00:23:13.900 --> 00:23:16.599
you\'re going to be able
to fix this?\"

00:23:16.600 --> 00:23:19.966
And one EPA official made
the statement to me,

00:23:19.967 --> 00:23:21.866
on top of that
chat pile right over there,

00:23:21.867 --> 00:23:24.832
\"I\'ll be able to retire here.\"

00:23:24.833 --> 00:23:26.666
That\'s their attitude.

00:23:26.667 --> 00:23:29.332
It\'s not about
what\'s best for these people.

00:23:29.333 --> 00:23:33.932
How can you justify
digging up a yard

00:23:33.933 --> 00:23:37.066
when you have 3 million tons
of contaminants

00:23:37.067 --> 00:23:39.132
across the street?

00:23:39.133 --> 00:23:40.866
- Could they have
done things differently

00:23:40.867 --> 00:23:42.466
in the \'20s
during the mining boom?

00:23:42.467 --> 00:23:47.032
Could they have managed
the waste differently?

00:23:47.033 --> 00:23:48.599
Yeah, probably.

00:23:48.600 --> 00:23:50.299
They could have done
a better job of it.

00:23:50.300 --> 00:23:52.366
Were they thinking about it
at that time?

00:23:52.367 --> 00:23:53.566
No.

00:23:53.567 --> 00:23:55.599
Should we think about it now?

00:23:55.600 --> 00:23:57.599
Damn straight.
We better think about it.

00:23:57.600 --> 00:24:00.399
[slow blues music]

00:24:00.400 --> 00:24:02.632
Myers: Yeah, the chat\'s bad.
The ground\'s bad.

00:24:02.633 --> 00:24:03.966
Lead poisoning is high.

00:24:03.967 --> 00:24:05.832
But the reason the EPA
came here on day one

00:24:05.833 --> 00:24:07.366
and called this their worst

00:24:07.367 --> 00:24:09.166
was the water.

00:24:09.167 --> 00:24:10.432
Since the mines closed,

00:24:10.433 --> 00:24:11.966
they\'ve filled up
with water so bad,

00:24:11.967 --> 00:24:13.966
nothing can live in it,

00:24:13.967 --> 00:24:17.566
and the water that pours out
of the mines is no better.

00:24:17.567 --> 00:24:19.032
Back in their day,
the Quapaws died

00:24:19.033 --> 00:24:21.999
trying to cross the river
to get to their new home.

00:24:22.000 --> 00:24:23.667
This is some mean water
out here.

00:24:27.033 --> 00:24:29.699
- 1979 was actually,
from what I can remember,

00:24:29.700 --> 00:24:31.966
about the first time the EPA

00:24:31.967 --> 00:24:35.199
started sniffing around here,
so to speak.

00:24:35.200 --> 00:24:38.099
That\'s when the contaminated
water started coming up

00:24:38.100 --> 00:24:41.232
out from the underground mines
into the creek.

00:24:41.233 --> 00:24:42.599
- You had to pump the water out

00:24:42.600 --> 00:24:44.499
so you could keep
the mine system dry then.

00:24:44.500 --> 00:24:47.432
So when you stop that,
it fills up over time.

00:24:47.433 --> 00:24:49.866
- They were digging out
an aquifer.

00:24:49.867 --> 00:24:51.866
That\'s why they had
to continue pumping,

00:24:51.867 --> 00:24:55.632
and they suggested that if
they ever had to stop pumping,

00:24:55.633 --> 00:24:59.932
that within ten years,
the mine water would surface

00:24:59.933 --> 00:25:02.499
and kill all the fish
in Tar Creek.

00:25:02.500 --> 00:25:04.232
That was ignored.

00:25:04.233 --> 00:25:06.099
- When the water is running,

00:25:06.100 --> 00:25:09.466
it\'s... where most of the water
comes out is right here.

00:25:09.467 --> 00:25:11.732
There\'s so much water
coming out here,

00:25:11.733 --> 00:25:16.332
it goes thataway full stream
and goes out thataway,

00:25:16.333 --> 00:25:17.532
there\'s so much in here.

00:25:17.533 --> 00:25:18.866
But if they blocked
this one off,

00:25:18.867 --> 00:25:20.099
it\'d come out somewhere else,

00:25:20.100 --> 00:25:22.432
some drill holes
or something somewhere else.

00:25:22.433 --> 00:25:23.799
But this is actually
an old shaft,

00:25:23.800 --> 00:25:30.666
mine workings right here
that\'s fell in, so...

00:25:30.667 --> 00:25:33.499
- [singing] All my spare time

00:25:33.500 --> 00:25:37.232
- We\'re right at the 800-foot
elevation level right here,

00:25:37.233 --> 00:25:40.899
and a lot of the mine discharges
are coming out

00:25:40.900 --> 00:25:44.132
right at the 800-foot level.

00:25:44.133 --> 00:25:47.133
[car approaching]

00:25:49.700 --> 00:25:52.399
And you can tell that when
the red water mixes

00:25:52.400 --> 00:25:56.666
with the clear water,
that\'s the difference.

00:25:56.667 --> 00:25:57.899
Although this looks clear,

00:25:57.900 --> 00:25:59.866
it\'s still got a lot
of metals in it,

00:25:59.867 --> 00:26:02.932
because it\'s discharging
out of the chat piles.

00:26:02.933 --> 00:26:06.999
The sides of the mine that has
the minerals in it are submerged

00:26:07.000 --> 00:26:10.032
beneath the water,
and it\'s isolated from oxygen.

00:26:10.033 --> 00:26:12.299
Oxygen is the key.

00:26:12.300 --> 00:26:14.199
You know, back when
they were first filling up,

00:26:14.200 --> 00:26:17.966
there was a lot of oxygen
available in the mines,

00:26:17.967 --> 00:26:20.332
and that was causing
oxidation of metals,

00:26:20.333 --> 00:26:24.799
which in turn
creates, basically, sulfur,

00:26:24.800 --> 00:26:26.099
sulfuric acid.

00:26:26.100 --> 00:26:30.599
- You have Tar Creek,
which starts up in Kansas,

00:26:30.600 --> 00:26:32.599
runs through the mining belt,

00:26:32.600 --> 00:26:37.632
becomes contaminated at Douthat,
which is just south of Picher.

00:26:37.633 --> 00:26:41.432
It then runs
on the east side of Commerce,

00:26:41.433 --> 00:26:46.599
runs through the center of Miami
on into Neosho River

00:26:46.600 --> 00:26:48.266
on into Grand Lake.

00:26:48.267 --> 00:26:50.766
Let\'s just say it\'s been
doing that since \'83.

00:26:50.767 --> 00:26:54.733
Nothing but orange, yucky,
smelly, contaminated water.

00:27:01.633 --> 00:27:03.299
Myers: This watershed
has been clocking

00:27:03.300 --> 00:27:06.266
5 million gallons a day
since there have been clocks.

00:27:06.267 --> 00:27:08.066
And if water rolls
into the mines

00:27:08.067 --> 00:27:09.399
or slides off a chat pile

00:27:09.400 --> 00:27:11.432
or flows out
from the underground,

00:27:11.433 --> 00:27:13.899
it\'s real bad news.

00:27:13.900 --> 00:27:15.932
Isaac Newton says
the reaction to the mining

00:27:15.933 --> 00:27:18.766
is a lifetime of polluted water.

00:27:18.767 --> 00:27:21.799
And this mine system swallows
any groundwater whole

00:27:21.800 --> 00:27:25.032
and then coughs up orange blood.

00:27:25.033 --> 00:27:26.766
- And you look
at these problems and say,

00:27:26.767 --> 00:27:28.399
\"This has been here
for a long time.\"

00:27:28.400 --> 00:27:32.032
It\'s not just 25 years
since Superfund.

00:27:32.033 --> 00:27:34.166
It\'s since mining began.

00:27:34.167 --> 00:27:36.232
And we all benefited
from that mining,

00:27:36.233 --> 00:27:38.632
either directly or indirectly.

00:27:38.633 --> 00:27:40.599
It was a good thing
for the United States.

00:27:40.600 --> 00:27:42.299
But this is the legacy.

00:27:42.300 --> 00:27:46.867
We have kind of an obligation
to fix it.

00:27:50.300 --> 00:27:52.566
- If you drive through Picher
right now

00:27:52.567 --> 00:27:57.332
and drive down Douthat Road,
nothing\'s changed.

00:27:57.333 --> 00:28:02.532
Nothing has really changed since
they put us on the NPL list.

00:28:02.533 --> 00:28:05.032
It\'s a disgrace.

00:28:05.033 --> 00:28:07.632
And it\'s sad.

00:28:07.633 --> 00:28:14.066
But no one has done anything
about the water, the air.

00:28:14.067 --> 00:28:15.432
But I\'m ashamed right now

00:28:15.433 --> 00:28:17.599
of the Environmental
Protection Agency,

00:28:17.600 --> 00:28:21.632
the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
the Department of the Interior,

00:28:21.633 --> 00:28:26.332
because they\'ve spent
all this time talking to us,

00:28:26.333 --> 00:28:29.932
telling us, you know,
what they think we want to hear.

00:28:29.933 --> 00:28:33.432
But if you drive through Picher
and you drive down Douthat Road,

00:28:33.433 --> 00:28:36.832
it looks the same as it did
when they turned off the pumps

00:28:36.833 --> 00:28:38.399
and they walked away.

00:28:38.400 --> 00:28:41.500
No one cares about the people
that live here.

00:28:46.833 --> 00:28:48.432
Myers: This is not
a safe place to live.

00:28:48.433 --> 00:28:49.799
It\'s a good place.

00:28:49.800 --> 00:28:52.666
There\'s good people here,
but it\'s not fit.

00:28:52.667 --> 00:28:54.766
There have been whispers
about buying this place out

00:28:54.767 --> 00:28:57.899
since it was named
as a Superfund in \'83.

00:28:57.900 --> 00:29:00.132
I mean, horrible water,
all this mine waste,

00:29:00.133 --> 00:29:01.632
direct danger to children,

00:29:01.633 --> 00:29:04.099
but they couldn\'t get the help
they needed.

00:29:04.100 --> 00:29:07.166
It should have been easier
to put a buyout together.

00:29:07.167 --> 00:29:08.499
Whether it\'s a dioxin scare

00:29:08.500 --> 00:29:10.466
or they want to build a lake
or highway somewhere,

00:29:10.467 --> 00:29:12.966
buyouts happen all the time.

00:29:12.967 --> 00:29:16.766
And the human health dangers
here seem to qualify.

00:29:16.767 --> 00:29:19.199
Plus, Tar Creek residents
had an ace in the hole.

00:29:19.200 --> 00:29:22.166
Oklahoma senior senator
Jim Inhofe was chair

00:29:22.167 --> 00:29:24.132
of the Environmental
and Public Works Committee

00:29:24.133 --> 00:29:25.432
in the Senate.

00:29:25.433 --> 00:29:28.299
This committee oversees
and directs the EPA,

00:29:28.300 --> 00:29:30.932
and Inhofe oversaw
the committee.

00:29:30.933 --> 00:29:32.966
As far as environmental
buyout money goes,

00:29:32.967 --> 00:29:35.232
Inhofe was the faucet.

00:29:35.233 --> 00:29:37.132
When you have a place like this
in your home state

00:29:37.133 --> 00:29:38.799
and you\'re chairing the kind
of committee

00:29:38.800 --> 00:29:40.599
that can actually help people
and you refuse,

00:29:40.600 --> 00:29:44.232
well, we could all smell
what he was cooking.

00:29:44.233 --> 00:29:46.799
The problem was that Inhofe
is a soldier of industry.

00:29:46.800 --> 00:29:49.199
Fact is, Inhofe\'s brother
even used to work

00:29:49.200 --> 00:29:52.532
for the insurance agency
owned by the mining companies.

00:29:52.533 --> 00:29:53.899
Inhofe is in deep
with polluters,

00:29:53.900 --> 00:29:55.399
so he can\'t just order a buyout

00:29:55.400 --> 00:29:58.232
because that would prove
this land\'s not fit for people.

00:29:58.233 --> 00:29:59.832
And if it\'s not fit,

00:29:59.833 --> 00:30:02.566
then someone\'s
got to pay for what got done,

00:30:02.567 --> 00:30:04.766
and that could get expensive.

00:30:04.767 --> 00:30:05.832
So they\'d just pay Inhofe

00:30:05.833 --> 00:30:08.332
to make this
buyout talk disappear.

00:30:08.333 --> 00:30:11.232
And these citizens have to stay.

00:30:11.233 --> 00:30:13.632
But to prove that he was working
for Ottawa County folks,

00:30:13.633 --> 00:30:15.766
he put together
an $18 million cleanup plan

00:30:15.767 --> 00:30:17.666
to stand in for a buyout.

00:30:17.667 --> 00:30:21.266
Made everyone wait three years
while he pulled it together.

00:30:21.267 --> 00:30:23.432
He was going to move
all the chat.

00:30:23.433 --> 00:30:26.132
They ran the math on the plan
the same day it was released.

00:30:26.133 --> 00:30:28.232
If you ran 50 trucks
a day all day,

00:30:28.233 --> 00:30:33.332
it would take 40 years
just to move the chat, 40 years.

00:30:33.333 --> 00:30:37.166
Moving the chat would cost
$225 million, not $18 million.

00:30:37.167 --> 00:30:41.032
A complete buyout was estimated
at $50 million.

00:30:41.033 --> 00:30:43.866
And everyone knows Inhofe\'s
not much of a science man.

00:30:43.867 --> 00:30:45.966
- Could it be
that man-made global warming

00:30:45.967 --> 00:30:47.432
is the greatest hoax

00:30:47.433 --> 00:30:49.599
ever perpetrated
on the American people?

00:30:49.600 --> 00:30:51.132
I believe it is.

00:30:51.133 --> 00:30:56.032
Myers: But it turned out
he wasn\'t a math guy either.

00:30:56.033 --> 00:30:58.267
But then came news
that not even Inhofe could spin.

00:31:01.300 --> 00:31:05.066
- If you got away
from the mining

00:31:05.067 --> 00:31:09.066
and didn\'t hear no noise
or anything,

00:31:09.067 --> 00:31:15.232
that roof was always a-popping,
and it\'s a-settling.

00:31:15.233 --> 00:31:21.232
And I am surprised that Picher
hasn\'t just all fell in.

00:31:21.233 --> 00:31:23.066
- They looked at water,

00:31:23.067 --> 00:31:24.332
and then they looked at lead,

00:31:24.333 --> 00:31:26.432
and then...
Well, the trouble is,

00:31:26.433 --> 00:31:28.499
they forgot to look
at subsidence risk,

00:31:28.500 --> 00:31:30.032
which is, of course,
the undermining

00:31:30.033 --> 00:31:31.999
that goes along
with hard-rock mining.

00:31:32.000 --> 00:31:33.466
You know, it turns out
that the area

00:31:33.467 --> 00:31:34.799
is significantly undermined,

00:31:34.800 --> 00:31:36.766
which really shouldn\'t be
a surprise to anybody,

00:31:36.767 --> 00:31:38.532
since they took out,
I don\'t know,

00:31:38.533 --> 00:31:41.966
250 million tons of ore,
maybe more.

00:31:41.967 --> 00:31:44.766
- You know,
this underground mining

00:31:44.767 --> 00:31:48.499
was done sometimes
clear up to where they...

00:31:48.500 --> 00:31:50.132
Until they saw tree roots.

00:31:50.133 --> 00:31:54.366
I mean you have
a several-hundred-foot mine room

00:31:54.367 --> 00:31:56.899
that\'s going almost
to the surface, guess what.

00:31:56.900 --> 00:31:58.732
It\'s going to collapse
one of these days.

00:31:58.733 --> 00:32:01.366
And that land
that you\'re seeing out there,

00:32:01.367 --> 00:32:03.232
it\'s all undermined.

00:32:03.233 --> 00:32:05.866
In Picher, in Cardin,
where people are living,

00:32:05.867 --> 00:32:07.399
they could wake up one day,

00:32:07.400 --> 00:32:10.066
and their house could be
collapsed into a mine.

00:32:10.067 --> 00:32:13.067
[ground rumbling]

00:32:14.467 --> 00:32:17.332
- They didn\'t care
what they done to the city.

00:32:17.333 --> 00:32:21.866
Picher is just setting
on pillars and...

00:32:21.867 --> 00:32:23.466
Myers: And they took
those pillars down.

00:32:23.467 --> 00:32:24.932
- They took the pillars out.

00:32:24.933 --> 00:32:28.399
- Oh, medium-size cave-in.

00:32:28.400 --> 00:32:29.466
- This is medium?

00:32:29.467 --> 00:32:31.067
- Yeah, this is medium.

00:32:37.933 --> 00:32:40.132
This is the Sunflower.

00:32:40.133 --> 00:32:43.199
Well, it\'s the biggest
cave-in in the area,

00:32:43.200 --> 00:32:45.266
the Picher Field, right here.

00:32:45.267 --> 00:32:46.999
It\'s probably, I\'m going to say,

00:32:47.000 --> 00:32:51.066
another 150 foot deeper than
what the water is right now.

00:32:51.067 --> 00:32:54.999
- But I think there is
a public policy issue here of,

00:32:55.000 --> 00:32:56.599
if you can\'t account
for all the risk

00:32:56.600 --> 00:32:59.132
in an environmental site,
you shouldn\'t be in charge.

00:32:59.133 --> 00:33:01.099
- Well, I\'ve been around these
my whole life,

00:33:01.100 --> 00:33:02.566
and I\'m still scared of them.

00:33:02.567 --> 00:33:06.232
I mean, there\'s just...
There\'s just no forgiveness

00:33:06.233 --> 00:33:10.432
if anything happens
around these things.

00:33:10.433 --> 00:33:12.299
If you start going down,
that\'s it.

00:33:12.300 --> 00:33:13.700
You\'re history.

00:33:16.933 --> 00:33:18.166
Myers: It sounds crazy,

00:33:18.167 --> 00:33:20.632
but those holes
were actually a blessing.

00:33:20.633 --> 00:33:22.832
The state couldn\'t afford
to move everyone out,

00:33:22.833 --> 00:33:24.499
and Inhofe had already
pounded his gavel

00:33:24.500 --> 00:33:27.066
that the current problems
weren\'t bad enough.

00:33:27.067 --> 00:33:30.199
So things had to get worse
to get anything done.

00:33:30.200 --> 00:33:31.799
Several areas
collapsed that summer,

00:33:31.800 --> 00:33:33.299
and Inhofe finally agreed
to a study

00:33:33.300 --> 00:33:35.100
to prove the extent
of the undermining.

00:33:36.900 --> 00:33:39.032
[water sloshing]

00:33:39.033 --> 00:33:41.499
Not that it needed to be proven.

00:33:41.500 --> 00:33:43.566
Another study felt exhausting,
you know.

00:33:43.567 --> 00:33:44.832
It felt tired to have to prove

00:33:44.833 --> 00:33:46.366
that the land
was actually undermined

00:33:46.367 --> 00:33:48.266
and more holes were coming.

00:33:48.267 --> 00:33:51.066
But it was a material chance
to get a buyout,

00:33:51.067 --> 00:33:54.100
so nobody refused
this $2 million study.

00:33:56.033 --> 00:34:01.332
- You can\'t ignore the data
or what the data shows

00:34:01.333 --> 00:34:03.932
in regards to the severity
of the underground mining

00:34:03.933 --> 00:34:05.132
that was done up here.

00:34:05.133 --> 00:34:07.533
You cannot dispute it
in any way.

00:34:12.300 --> 00:34:14.399
- As we were able
to get political support

00:34:14.400 --> 00:34:15.899
to evaluate that risk,

00:34:15.900 --> 00:34:19.999
then it became obvious that
people shouldn\'t live there.

00:34:20.000 --> 00:34:24.332
- It\'s best for in the long run,

00:34:24.333 --> 00:34:26.599
because we don\'t have to worry
about any more kids

00:34:26.600 --> 00:34:29.132
being raised
in this environment.

00:34:29.133 --> 00:34:31.799
You know, we\'ve got to put
an end to that.

00:34:31.800 --> 00:34:33.432
- What we are doing is,
we are going

00:34:33.433 --> 00:34:36.732
and finding comparables
outside the project area,

00:34:36.733 --> 00:34:39.199
and keep in mind,
the Superfund site

00:34:39.200 --> 00:34:40.999
is a bigger area
than the project area.

00:34:41.000 --> 00:34:43.299
The project area is that area
that I told you about,

00:34:43.300 --> 00:34:44.432
the 40-square-mile area

00:34:44.433 --> 00:34:47.166
that was in
that subsidence team study.

00:34:47.167 --> 00:34:49.766
They\'re finding properties
outside that area

00:34:49.767 --> 00:34:53.666
and then giving them comparable
value for their property.

00:34:53.667 --> 00:34:56.966
The trust has tried to make
some provisions to make sure

00:34:56.967 --> 00:35:01.632
that everybody gets a minimal,
decent level of housing.

00:35:01.633 --> 00:35:03.132
So in other words,
if you live in a...

00:35:03.133 --> 00:35:04.399
In substandard housing,

00:35:04.400 --> 00:35:06.066
we don\'t want to give you
just enough money

00:35:06.067 --> 00:35:07.432
to go live
in substandard housing

00:35:07.433 --> 00:35:09.966
in Miami or somewhere else.

00:35:09.967 --> 00:35:12.466
People get an appraisal,
and I don\'t care if you live

00:35:12.467 --> 00:35:14.332
in a $500,000 house,
you get an appraisal,

00:35:14.333 --> 00:35:16.032
and you go,
\"Oh, man, I really thought

00:35:16.033 --> 00:35:17.899
my house was worth
more than that,\" you know.

00:35:17.900 --> 00:35:20.266
And so what I keep telling
people is, \"Be realistic.

00:35:20.267 --> 00:35:23.499
\"In reality,
if you took that house

00:35:23.500 --> 00:35:25.832
\"in the condition that it\'s in,

00:35:25.833 --> 00:35:27.666
\"take it and stick it
in Miami, Oklahoma,

00:35:27.667 --> 00:35:29.032
\"put a sign out
in the front yard,

00:35:29.033 --> 00:35:30.299
\"how much do you really think

00:35:30.300 --> 00:35:33.432
you\'re going to get
for that house?\"

00:35:33.433 --> 00:35:35.766
- Kind of interesting,
we\'ve been so busy

00:35:35.767 --> 00:35:37.866
trying to do
the appraisal issues

00:35:37.867 --> 00:35:40.499
and those kind of things
to get people, I hope,

00:35:40.500 --> 00:35:41.699
what are very fair values.

00:35:41.700 --> 00:35:43.899
I mean that\'s our intent.

00:35:43.900 --> 00:35:45.432
Like with any appraisal,

00:35:45.433 --> 00:35:47.566
not everybody\'s happy
with what they\'re appraised,

00:35:47.567 --> 00:35:50.966
but it\'s
a chance for these people

00:35:50.967 --> 00:35:52.967
that they really would never
have had otherwise.

00:35:56.400 --> 00:35:58.766
- I\'d like to stay
the rest of my life out here,

00:35:58.767 --> 00:36:01.732
because I feel like
I ain\'t got maybe a year,

00:36:01.733 --> 00:36:04.332
two years, you know,
maybe not even that.

00:36:04.333 --> 00:36:06.632
It\'s up to God what years I got,

00:36:06.633 --> 00:36:10.666
but I hate to move.

00:36:10.667 --> 00:36:14.432
You know, I really do.

00:36:14.433 --> 00:36:17.932
Stuff on the walls and pictures,
so much stuff,

00:36:17.933 --> 00:36:22.132
and to have to get rid of it
and different things,

00:36:22.133 --> 00:36:23.499
that\'s a lot of it.

00:36:23.500 --> 00:36:25.966
It\'d be nice to have
a nice house, you know,

00:36:25.967 --> 00:36:29.199
but I\'m not able to take care
of anything hardly now,

00:36:29.200 --> 00:36:32.333
you know, so...

00:36:35.267 --> 00:36:37.632
Myers: Yeah, it ain\'t much,
but it\'s home.

00:36:37.633 --> 00:36:39.566
And it\'s got to be hard
leaving home,

00:36:39.567 --> 00:36:42.232
practically being made to leave.

00:36:42.233 --> 00:36:43.932
This place has already
stolen their health

00:36:43.933 --> 00:36:45.432
and their children\'s health.

00:36:45.433 --> 00:36:47.366
It squandered
their property values,

00:36:47.367 --> 00:36:49.132
but it\'s still home.

00:36:49.133 --> 00:36:50.932
And once the buyout
reaches critical mass,

00:36:50.933 --> 00:36:52.566
there won\'t be
any more fire department,

00:36:52.567 --> 00:36:53.832
any more police,

00:36:53.833 --> 00:36:57.199
any more electricity
or water or stores.

00:36:57.200 --> 00:37:01.866
It\'ll just be paved country,
lined with rusted street signs.

00:37:01.867 --> 00:37:03.266
And when you go through all that

00:37:03.267 --> 00:37:05.966
and are told the one place
you can\'t live is home,

00:37:05.967 --> 00:37:09.332
you deserve a buyout process
that is dignified and clean.

00:37:09.333 --> 00:37:11.766
So the trust was appointed
to represent the citizens

00:37:11.767 --> 00:37:13.466
during the buyout process.

00:37:13.467 --> 00:37:16.466
They carry out orders
from the federal government,

00:37:16.467 --> 00:37:19.466
handle all appraisal issues,
and cut checks for the homes.

00:37:19.467 --> 00:37:21.999
- And I\'m just making
a little short statement.

00:37:22.000 --> 00:37:26.166
I was offered $15 a square foot
for my business,

00:37:26.167 --> 00:37:30.032
and there\'s no way that you can
build a mini storage business...

00:37:30.033 --> 00:37:31.466
I know it\'s not gigantic.

00:37:31.467 --> 00:37:32.799
It\'s just 40 buildings.

00:37:32.800 --> 00:37:34.932
And... but it is nice.

00:37:34.933 --> 00:37:36.732
I\'d like for all of you
to go look at it.

00:37:36.733 --> 00:37:38.399
It\'s not a piece of crap.

00:37:38.400 --> 00:37:39.999
- We\'re standing
in front of my house,

00:37:40.000 --> 00:37:42.666
and for the base package,
the gun shop,

00:37:42.667 --> 00:37:45.666
the house, the land, three lots,

00:37:45.667 --> 00:37:48.132
$80,000.

00:37:48.133 --> 00:37:51.199
And there\'s no way
you can go to Miami

00:37:51.200 --> 00:37:53.132
and replace this for $80,000.

00:37:53.133 --> 00:37:54.399
It\'s impossible.

00:37:54.400 --> 00:37:57.299
I\'d say $102,000 would be fair.
Myers: $102,000.

00:37:57.300 --> 00:37:58.632
- Yes.
Myers: Okay.

00:37:58.633 --> 00:38:00.566
- And I don\'t think
I could actually go to Miami

00:38:00.567 --> 00:38:02.799
and replace it for $102,000.

00:38:02.800 --> 00:38:06.899
And I went to all of them to try
to find out why, and they said,

00:38:06.900 --> 00:38:08.899
\"Well, that\'s just what
we appraised it at.

00:38:08.900 --> 00:38:11.132
\"The appraisers have been
in business for 25 years.

00:38:11.133 --> 00:38:13.666
They should know
what they\'re doing.\"

00:38:13.667 --> 00:38:15.832
Well, evidently they don\'t.

00:38:15.833 --> 00:38:20.299
- The appraisal company,
Cinnabar Services out of Tulsa,

00:38:20.300 --> 00:38:22.532
is doing shoddy work.

00:38:22.533 --> 00:38:27.466
And the trust is paying them
$1.8 million to do shoddy work.

00:38:27.467 --> 00:38:29.399
They\'re rude to the people.

00:38:29.400 --> 00:38:31.299
They have inconsistencies,

00:38:31.300 --> 00:38:34.932
and the trust will not
hold them accountable.

00:38:34.933 --> 00:38:36.732
- Now, listen.
Now, wait a second.

00:38:36.733 --> 00:38:40.566
I listened.
Why don\'t you guys listen?

00:38:40.567 --> 00:38:42.532
We have... people want to say

00:38:42.533 --> 00:38:44.166
this is not like
the first buyout.

00:38:44.167 --> 00:38:46.066
Well, we did the same things.

00:38:46.067 --> 00:38:49.799
We put something out for bid.
We hired a contractor.

00:38:49.800 --> 00:38:54.032
We have gone
and gotten their appraisals,

00:38:54.033 --> 00:38:55.566
and we\'ve had them reviewed.

00:38:55.567 --> 00:38:59.066
I mean... and in all honesty,
the values are higher

00:38:59.067 --> 00:39:01.366
in this buyout
than they were in the first one.

00:39:01.367 --> 00:39:05.199
- And what do you see
in the \"News-Record\"?

00:39:05.200 --> 00:39:07.032
Here\'s today\'s \"News-Record.\"

00:39:07.033 --> 00:39:11.399
\"Trust defends buyout approach.\"

00:39:11.400 --> 00:39:14.832
The trust is circling
the wagons.

00:39:14.833 --> 00:39:16.166
You know?

00:39:16.167 --> 00:39:20.166
The trust is supposed
to take care of these people,

00:39:20.167 --> 00:39:21.432
and they\'re not doing it.

00:39:21.433 --> 00:39:22.766
- Are there going to be people

00:39:22.767 --> 00:39:24.299
who feel like
they were due more?

00:39:24.300 --> 00:39:26.799
Yes.

00:39:26.800 --> 00:39:30.099
What I can assure you is that
there has been no conspiracy

00:39:30.100 --> 00:39:31.232
on the part of anyone

00:39:31.233 --> 00:39:33.232
to get higher values
for certain people.

00:39:33.233 --> 00:39:34.632
Now, let me finish.

00:39:34.633 --> 00:39:35.999
- I will.

00:39:36.000 --> 00:39:40.699
- What there is is a lot
of innuendo and accusation,

00:39:40.700 --> 00:39:43.667
and yet there is no proof.

00:39:45.333 --> 00:39:47.332
- Okay, we\'re coming up
on Janelle\'s brother.

00:39:47.333 --> 00:39:50.332
This is Gaylan Hart,
the gray house,

00:39:50.333 --> 00:39:54.000
just lap siding, $115,000.

00:39:56.967 --> 00:39:58.966
That house is
a old, old, old house.

00:39:58.967 --> 00:40:00.499
That\'s been moved three times.

00:40:00.500 --> 00:40:03.299
That house is probably
at least 80 years old.

00:40:03.300 --> 00:40:04.832
Okay, this house on the left

00:40:04.833 --> 00:40:07.532
belongs to Missy
and Sammy Beets.

00:40:07.533 --> 00:40:11.867
And they\'ve been offered
$70,000.

00:40:15.433 --> 00:40:17.232
- Not by appraisal standards.
- Oh, my gosh.

00:40:17.233 --> 00:40:18.666
- Well, what... hey.
- Knock-knock.

00:40:18.667 --> 00:40:19.966
- Hi.
- Hello.

00:40:19.967 --> 00:40:22.166
- By appraisal standards
last time we had it appraised?

00:40:22.167 --> 00:40:23.932
Yes, it was.
- Yes, it was a four-bedroom.

00:40:23.933 --> 00:40:25.299
- Okay, let me explain.

00:40:25.300 --> 00:40:27.366
Typically, in most homes,

00:40:27.367 --> 00:40:29.666
you have the bedrooms
at one end of the home,

00:40:29.667 --> 00:40:31.632
the living area at the other.

00:40:31.633 --> 00:40:34.432
Next to the bedrooms
is the bathrooms.

00:40:34.433 --> 00:40:36.632
Rooms on the other side
of the house

00:40:36.633 --> 00:40:38.699
away from the bathrooms

00:40:38.700 --> 00:40:42.132
are usually not considered
a bedroom because...

00:40:42.133 --> 00:40:45.032
This has to do with what we call
a functional issue.

00:40:45.033 --> 00:40:47.232
You don\'t want somebody walking
through the living room

00:40:47.233 --> 00:40:49.066
in their underwear to go
to the bathroom

00:40:49.067 --> 00:40:51.199
if there\'s going to be
people in the living room.

00:40:51.200 --> 00:40:53.299
Therefore, this room typically

00:40:53.300 --> 00:40:55.799
would not be
considered a bedroom.

00:40:55.800 --> 00:40:57.799
- And they don\'t, and
they have a fireplace, that...

00:40:57.800 --> 00:40:59.732
- If there was a mistake
with the Harts\' property,

00:40:59.733 --> 00:41:02.199
there was a mistake;
we cannot...

00:41:02.200 --> 00:41:04.199
If we gave the Harts
too much money,

00:41:04.200 --> 00:41:06.232
we gave \'em too much money.

00:41:06.233 --> 00:41:10.066
- And if that\'s the case,
then everybody in Picher

00:41:10.067 --> 00:41:14.232
and Cardin
needs the same mistake made.

00:41:14.233 --> 00:41:17.166
- Cinnabar said,
\"There is something wrong

00:41:17.167 --> 00:41:18.832
with the Beets\' appraisal.\"

00:41:18.833 --> 00:41:21.866
So as... you, as a trust,
why did you not help me?

00:41:21.867 --> 00:41:23.166
- We did.

00:41:23.167 --> 00:41:25.599
We asked for your property
to be re-reviewed.

00:41:25.600 --> 00:41:27.632
- But you didn\'t raise.

00:41:27.633 --> 00:41:29.566
- That doesn\'t mean
that we didn\'t re-review it.

00:41:29.567 --> 00:41:31.099
Just because
we didn\'t order somebody

00:41:31.100 --> 00:41:32.666
to raise it or lower it...

00:41:32.667 --> 00:41:34.832
- \"There\'s something wrong
with the Beets\' appraisal,

00:41:34.833 --> 00:41:36.132
so let\'s leave it
the same and\"...

00:41:36.133 --> 00:41:37.732
- I don\'t know
what that statement means.

00:41:37.733 --> 00:41:38.899
- I don\'t know what that means.

00:41:38.900 --> 00:41:40.499
We got three new comps
for your property.

00:41:40.500 --> 00:41:42.532
It... and if it didn\'t
significantly change

00:41:42.533 --> 00:41:43.966
the value, then...

00:41:43.967 --> 00:41:48.299
- I mean, I promise you, we went
over that multiple times and...

00:41:48.300 --> 00:41:49.899
- Mark, you can look at me
and tell me

00:41:49.900 --> 00:41:51.200
you didn\'t find anything wrong?

00:41:55.300 --> 00:41:56.732
[all murmuring]

00:41:56.733 --> 00:41:57.900
- Thank you.

00:42:00.567 --> 00:42:03.899
Myers: The appraisers probably
have it tough with this town.

00:42:03.900 --> 00:42:05.366
There are some poor people here.

00:42:05.367 --> 00:42:06.832
There are
some bad-looking homes,

00:42:06.833 --> 00:42:09.799
and I\'m sure those
create some challenges.

00:42:09.800 --> 00:42:11.332
But, you know,
Missy and Sammy\'s house

00:42:11.333 --> 00:42:12.932
is the same size as the Harts\'.

00:42:12.933 --> 00:42:15.532
Missy and Sammy\'s is much newer,

00:42:15.533 --> 00:42:17.632
and even if you were blind
and a little crazy

00:42:17.633 --> 00:42:19.832
and think these homes
are in similar condition

00:42:19.833 --> 00:42:21.232
and think a bedroom
isn\'t a bedroom

00:42:21.233 --> 00:42:23.799
if it\'s not close to a bathroom,

00:42:23.800 --> 00:42:25.899
there\'s still
a $45,000 difference

00:42:25.900 --> 00:42:29.166
in a town where the average home
is 58 grand.

00:42:29.167 --> 00:42:31.299
That\'s almost the cost
of a whole other house.

00:42:31.300 --> 00:42:32.666
This is the kind
of appraisal work

00:42:32.667 --> 00:42:34.566
the trust stands behind.

00:42:34.567 --> 00:42:38.499
And they sit in Missy\'s home,
on her couch, and say,

00:42:38.500 --> 00:42:40.632
\"Maybe we gave
the Harts too much.

00:42:40.633 --> 00:42:42.899
Maybe we made a mistake.\"

00:42:42.900 --> 00:42:44.099
And in the same breath,

00:42:44.100 --> 00:42:46.066
they think Missy and Sammy
got a good run.

00:42:46.067 --> 00:42:48.532
- $45,000 different.

00:42:48.533 --> 00:42:50.332
- It\'s not a Hollywood story...

00:42:50.333 --> 00:42:51.899
Myers: And where does
this leave those

00:42:51.900 --> 00:42:53.299
who\'ve already
worked a lifetime?

00:42:53.300 --> 00:42:58.666
They\'re paid back
with Chapter 11 at 92 years old.

00:42:58.667 --> 00:43:04.266
- And outside of that,
Jackie Bresee.

00:43:04.267 --> 00:43:05.599
She called me the other day.

00:43:05.600 --> 00:43:07.632
She\'s so worried about moving.

00:43:07.633 --> 00:43:10.366
She\'s alone.
She ain\'t got no neighbors.

00:43:10.367 --> 00:43:12.399
One across the street\'s
all she\'s got,

00:43:12.400 --> 00:43:14.732
and she don\'t know
about her house.

00:43:14.733 --> 00:43:18.866
They offered her $22,000 on it,
I think, she said...

00:43:18.867 --> 00:43:21.666
Told me, so...

00:43:21.667 --> 00:43:24.133
I don\'t know
what she\'s going to do.

00:43:26.567 --> 00:43:29.132
Myers: They offered
84-years-young Jackie Bresee

00:43:29.133 --> 00:43:32.366
$22,000 for her home.

00:43:32.367 --> 00:43:35.199
It doesn\'t matter
what her home is like.

00:43:35.200 --> 00:43:38.266
Where can you move on that?

00:43:38.267 --> 00:43:39.632
- She says,

00:43:39.633 --> 00:43:41.832
\"Gentleman, the purpose
of this letter is to explain

00:43:41.833 --> 00:43:43.699
\"why I do not have
a bill of sale.

00:43:43.700 --> 00:43:47.199
\"When I was 21, I bought
my home in Picher, Oklahoma,

00:43:47.200 --> 00:43:51.699
\"in the fall of 1943
from Dewey Fields for $375.

00:43:51.700 --> 00:43:53.866
\"I\'ve lived here
for almost 63 years.

00:43:53.867 --> 00:43:56.066
\"I\'m now almost 84 years old

00:43:56.067 --> 00:43:58.499
\"and have lived
in the neighborhood 77 years,

00:43:58.500 --> 00:44:01.766
\"longer, as far as I know,
than anyone now living or dead.

00:44:01.767 --> 00:44:05.099
\"It is with much regret that
I will have to leave my home

00:44:05.100 --> 00:44:07.032
\"at this late time in my life,

00:44:07.033 --> 00:44:09.199
\"but I cannot stay
without police protection,

00:44:09.200 --> 00:44:12.066
\"sewer service,
utilities, and safe neighbors.

00:44:12.067 --> 00:44:15.533
Please let me be among
the last to go.\"

00:44:25.500 --> 00:44:28.566
- How do you expect
an 80-year-old woman

00:44:28.567 --> 00:44:32.332
who\'s lived in that house
for 60 years,

00:44:32.333 --> 00:44:35.099
who\'s on a fixed income...

00:44:35.100 --> 00:44:38.632
How do you expect her to move

00:44:38.633 --> 00:44:44.632
out of the Superfund site
on $20,000?

00:44:44.633 --> 00:44:47.766
Now, you know, it\'s easy
for outsiders to come in

00:44:47.767 --> 00:44:48.932
and look at that house, say,

00:44:48.933 --> 00:44:51.032
\"My gosh,
that house isn\'t worth $5,000.\"

00:44:51.033 --> 00:44:54.199
That\'s right,
but that\'s that lady\'s home.

00:44:54.200 --> 00:44:55.899
That\'s all she has,

00:44:55.900 --> 00:44:57.966
and now you\'re going
to take it away from her,

00:44:57.967 --> 00:45:02.332
and now you\'ve got to make her
get in debt to get out of here.

00:45:02.333 --> 00:45:05.199
And the funny thing is,
we can come in here

00:45:05.200 --> 00:45:08.532
and spend $70,000
to dig up her yard,

00:45:08.533 --> 00:45:10.366
but we can\'t give her

00:45:10.367 --> 00:45:13.532
enough money
to move out of town on.

00:45:13.533 --> 00:45:16.799
- 1491, she lives up
on the hill, across from Reeves.

00:45:16.800 --> 00:45:18.632
- And she got how much?
- $115,000.

00:45:18.633 --> 00:45:19.633
Myers: This is what

00:45:19.634 --> 00:45:21.599
environmental problems
look like.

00:45:21.600 --> 00:45:24.499
They look like people problems.

00:45:24.500 --> 00:45:27.299
Environmental problems
are people problems.

00:45:27.300 --> 00:45:30.032
As long as gravity
still holds us here,

00:45:30.033 --> 00:45:31.399
they aren\'t separate.

00:45:31.400 --> 00:45:32.599
- Have you accepted your offer?

00:45:32.600 --> 00:45:33.999
- I haven\'t been
offered anything.

00:45:34.000 --> 00:45:35.532
- She was on that.
She was on the agenda.

00:45:35.533 --> 00:45:37.332
Myers: And these folks
have been stolen from,

00:45:37.333 --> 00:45:38.333
their land raped,

00:45:38.334 --> 00:45:39.666
their names drug
through the mud,

00:45:39.667 --> 00:45:41.099
but they are tough as hell.

00:45:41.100 --> 00:45:42.632
Break everything else
you can grip,

00:45:42.633 --> 00:45:44.632
but these people ain\'t
breaking on your science,

00:45:44.633 --> 00:45:45.999
on your say-so,

00:45:46.000 --> 00:45:48.399
or on your legislation
of the month.

00:45:48.400 --> 00:45:50.266
Hell, yes, they get
red-headed and mouthy

00:45:50.267 --> 00:45:52.466
when things seem counterfeit.

00:45:52.467 --> 00:45:54.799
What else do you have
when there ain\'t much?

00:45:54.800 --> 00:45:59.766
Just your word, your soul,
and your back.

00:45:59.767 --> 00:46:01.532
100 years later,
they\'re still here,

00:46:01.533 --> 00:46:05.032
still fighting for their health
and their cool spot of dirt.

00:46:05.033 --> 00:46:09.566
[somber blues guitar]

00:46:09.567 --> 00:46:11.366
Whether it\'s fair
or whether it ain\'t,

00:46:11.367 --> 00:46:13.132
they are going.

00:46:13.133 --> 00:46:15.766
This will not be home anymore.

00:46:15.767 --> 00:46:17.532
And 100 years after
the first pickax

00:46:17.533 --> 00:46:19.299
struck Oklahoma gold,

00:46:19.300 --> 00:46:22.199
they\'re handing this place
back to the Quapaw.

00:46:22.200 --> 00:46:23.666
\"Appreciate the ore.

00:46:23.667 --> 00:46:27.000
Here\'s the worst Superfund site
in the country.\"

00:46:31.467 --> 00:46:34.166
- Tar Creek,
it hasn\'t even started yet.

00:46:34.167 --> 00:46:37.299
You know, just because
the buyout\'s going on

00:46:37.300 --> 00:46:38.799
doesn\'t mean it\'s over.

00:46:38.800 --> 00:46:40.766
It means it\'s just beginning.

00:46:40.767 --> 00:46:42.366
- And they can buy
these people out,

00:46:42.367 --> 00:46:43.732
which is what
they\'re going to do,

00:46:43.733 --> 00:46:45.332
but the tribe\'s
going to be here forever,

00:46:45.333 --> 00:46:47.232
because the government\'s
not going to give them

00:46:47.233 --> 00:46:48.899
any more land.

00:46:48.900 --> 00:46:52.399
You can see that
with all this mine waste

00:46:52.400 --> 00:46:56.832
covering the landscape,
it\'s really not usable.

00:46:56.833 --> 00:47:00.399
- In the \'60s, Eagle Picher
was pressing for...

00:47:00.400 --> 00:47:04.766
To get out of their leases,
you know, and to move.

00:47:04.767 --> 00:47:09.666
And they also offered to put
the chat back in the mines,

00:47:09.667 --> 00:47:13.832
and the Department of Interior
denied that,

00:47:13.833 --> 00:47:16.132
stating that the Quapaw lands

00:47:16.133 --> 00:47:19.132
were no longer any good
for anything.

00:47:19.133 --> 00:47:22.266
They were ruined for agriculture
or any other purpose,

00:47:22.267 --> 00:47:28.199
that the only economic
derivative left of their lands

00:47:28.200 --> 00:47:31.132
was the gravel on the surface

00:47:31.133 --> 00:47:33.366
and that they could sell
that gravel.

00:47:33.367 --> 00:47:36.899
- When they started realizing
the chat had heavy metals in it

00:47:36.900 --> 00:47:39.066
and was
environmentally hazardous,

00:47:39.067 --> 00:47:40.866
the Department of Interior

00:47:40.867 --> 00:47:44.032
realized that
that\'s a liability.

00:47:44.033 --> 00:47:46.632
Since they managed the asset
for the tribe,

00:47:46.633 --> 00:47:49.499
if they allowed that to be sold,

00:47:49.500 --> 00:47:52.266
then they would incur
a liability,

00:47:52.267 --> 00:47:55.332
because if this chat were sold
and put somewhere else,

00:47:55.333 --> 00:47:57.732
that place might become
a Superfund site.

00:47:57.733 --> 00:48:01.532
Myers: They\'re lucky
there\'s so little left today.

00:48:01.533 --> 00:48:03.599
There\'s no telling what
the epidemic would look like

00:48:03.600 --> 00:48:06.266
if there were five times as much
lead poaching their young,

00:48:06.267 --> 00:48:08.032
polluting the creeks,

00:48:08.033 --> 00:48:10.832
and making the ground tremble.

00:48:10.833 --> 00:48:16.432
But 80 years later,
there sits 75 million tons.

00:48:16.433 --> 00:48:19.932
80 years of kids passing
through, struggling in school.

00:48:19.933 --> 00:48:21.199
Here or gone, this chat

00:48:21.200 --> 00:48:24.199
didn\'t just hurt the kids
who tested high.

00:48:24.200 --> 00:48:29.099
Lead was here in mountains
before anyone was running tests.

00:48:29.100 --> 00:48:32.966
- So not only is the chat
left on the Indian lease

00:48:32.967 --> 00:48:35.599
where the tribal member
can\'t use the land.

00:48:35.600 --> 00:48:37.899
Then they found out
they couldn\'t sell it either,

00:48:37.900 --> 00:48:40.299
so their land became useless.

00:48:40.300 --> 00:48:42.466
As result, this chat\'s
been just sitting here

00:48:42.467 --> 00:48:46.099
for 80, 90, 100 years.

00:48:46.100 --> 00:48:48.999
- You know, we\'re being
restricted from our sales,

00:48:49.000 --> 00:48:52.132
but the non-Indians are not.

00:48:52.133 --> 00:48:55.532
Myers: This chat causes
lead poisoning.

00:48:55.533 --> 00:48:57.899
That\'s not an opinion.

00:48:57.900 --> 00:49:00.366
It ruins this very land
that was given to the Quapaw

00:49:00.367 --> 00:49:02.899
to replace what they gave up.

00:49:02.900 --> 00:49:06.399
And the BIA made sure
this chat stayed right here.

00:49:06.400 --> 00:49:08.832
The BIA said,
\"These are the people

00:49:08.833 --> 00:49:12.732
who are going to bleed
because of this waste.\"

00:49:12.733 --> 00:49:15.532
And what is now so clear
about this function

00:49:15.533 --> 00:49:16.766
is that damaging the land

00:49:16.767 --> 00:49:22.432
is not a separate act
from damaging a culture.

00:49:22.433 --> 00:49:24.866
- The whole reason
that the government

00:49:24.867 --> 00:49:26.799
gave the tribe this land

00:49:26.800 --> 00:49:29.599
was to replace the land
where they came from, you know.

00:49:29.600 --> 00:49:35.432
The Quapaw tribe occupied
most of what is now Arkansas.

00:49:35.433 --> 00:49:37.866
- You know, and I feel bad
for the people

00:49:37.867 --> 00:49:39.599
that are living over in Picher.

00:49:39.600 --> 00:49:43.566
I feel bad that they\'re
going to have to move.

00:49:43.567 --> 00:49:46.866
I feel bad that they\'re going
to have to be relocated.

00:49:46.867 --> 00:49:48.032
But you know what?

00:49:48.033 --> 00:49:51.067
Quapaws didn\'t want
to leave Arkansas.

00:50:00.433 --> 00:50:04.166
- So it\'s getting bad out here.

00:50:04.167 --> 00:50:08.666
But not seeing hardly any birds,
squirrels, you know,

00:50:08.667 --> 00:50:11.699
ducks, geese, you know.

00:50:11.700 --> 00:50:13.866
I don\'t know
what\'s going on here.

00:50:13.867 --> 00:50:18.266
This is like Rachel Carson\'s
nightmare today.

00:50:18.267 --> 00:50:20.666
You know,
we\'re having a silent fall.

00:50:20.667 --> 00:50:23.266
You know, where are the birds?

00:50:23.267 --> 00:50:25.866
Where\'s the wildlife?

00:50:25.867 --> 00:50:28.999
You just don\'t see it,
and this is really unusual.

00:50:29.000 --> 00:50:33.499
I\'ve never been
on this river and seen it.

00:50:33.500 --> 00:50:37.100
You can\'t even hear
a bird chirping, you know?

00:50:47.200 --> 00:50:49.967
- I think the worst story
would have to be...

00:50:53.133 --> 00:50:56.133
[sniffling]

00:51:10.933 --> 00:51:13.666
The worst story would have to be

00:51:13.667 --> 00:51:15.766
the kids we let slip
through the cracks.

00:51:15.767 --> 00:51:17.767
[pounding on desk]

00:51:25.433 --> 00:51:27.532
The kids that...

00:51:27.533 --> 00:51:30.533
[tapping on desk]

00:51:31.667 --> 00:51:37.366
Didn\'t get any help early on.

00:51:37.367 --> 00:51:39.432
Because if you look back...

00:51:39.433 --> 00:51:43.299
If you look back
in the school\'s history,

00:51:43.300 --> 00:51:49.499
and if you talk to families...

00:51:49.500 --> 00:51:53.932
those problems were here
decades ago.

00:51:53.933 --> 00:51:56.033
And we didn\'t know it.

00:52:02.400 --> 00:52:04.732
Myers: Hundreds of towns
and cities have diminished,

00:52:04.733 --> 00:52:08.899
even died,
when industry pulls up stakes.

00:52:08.900 --> 00:52:10.666
But these towns in Oklahoma
began to die

00:52:10.667 --> 00:52:12.866
because industry arrived.

00:52:12.867 --> 00:52:14.799
Way back when,
it would have been impossible

00:52:14.800 --> 00:52:16.299
to know the dimension
of destruction

00:52:16.300 --> 00:52:19.999
they\'d be left with
or who would be hurt by it.

00:52:20.000 --> 00:52:22.866
Back then,
jobs trumped everything.

00:52:22.867 --> 00:52:25.799
Maybe they still do.

00:52:25.800 --> 00:52:28.999
Back then, they had no concept
of the future.

00:52:29.000 --> 00:52:33.866
But now we are the heirs
of our grandparents\' mess.

00:52:33.867 --> 00:52:35.799
And here we are about
to shoot the porch light out

00:52:35.800 --> 00:52:37.866
on this town.

00:52:37.867 --> 00:52:42.066
And how many more times can we
strike lead or uranium or oil

00:52:42.067 --> 00:52:43.466
before there\'s no more country?

00:52:43.467 --> 00:52:46.467
[crickets chirping]

00:52:48.233 --> 00:52:54.233
[bluesy guitar music]

00:52:59.700 --> 00:53:02.432
- [singing] I\'m down in Oklahoma

00:53:02.433 --> 00:53:04.733
Living out my life

00:53:10.700 --> 00:53:13.232
Down in here in Oklahoma

00:53:13.233 --> 00:53:15.100
Living out my life

00:53:21.200 --> 00:53:24.599
Out here in the backwoods
with my daughter

00:53:24.600 --> 00:53:26.900
And my wife

00:53:32.100 --> 00:53:34.732
I ain\'t got no insurance

00:53:34.733 --> 00:53:37.133
But the grace of God above

'A powerful film showing a tragic situation for everyone who lives in the region...It is tragic that the non-Native residents of the town of Picher must leave their homes because of the failed efforts to clean up the site, but even more a case of environmental injustice that members of the Quapaw tribe, who were forcefully moved to this region from Arkansas a hundred years ago, must stay behind and continue to be exposed to lead.' Dr. David Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, A Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization, University at Albany

'I found Matt Myers' Tar Creek a complete revelation, a much richer and more tragic story than I had ever been aware of. Only a carefully organized visual presentation like his can vividly bring to life, for a general audience, the blend of science, economics, politics, history and raw human misery that are bound up in an environmental disaster of such scale. Students viewing it will certainly grasp both the extreme care required in the extraction of vital resources and the potentially devastating costs of carelessness.' Christopher H. Foreman, Jr., Director and Professor, Social Policy Program, University of Maryland, Author, The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice

'Deeply moving and compelling. A tragic story of environmental degradation and community disintegration, layered on historical uprooting of Native Americans. The current health threats to children and the heart-breaking relocation and buy-out of families are contrasted against legislative and bureaucratic absurdities in this stunning documentary...Mining operations in this region of Oklahoma were both an environmental assault and a cultural assault. The film makers and those who were interviewed have done a tremendous service by presenting the many lessons to what I hope is a large audience.' Dr. Richard Clapp, Epidemiologist, Professor Emeritus, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University

'A moving film with a powerful message. Many of our basic industries may have provided us with solid benefits at one time but they have also left us with a hell of a toxic legacy. Our need for job creation will never be more important than our need for an ecologically sustainable economy. In fact, these two goals are inseparable and must always be so. Tar Creek confirms this lesson through a tragic story, but also points us in the right direction: We need to rethink our economy from the bottom up and ensure that we never compromise the health of our children and our environment for short-term financial and political goals.' David Naguib Pellow, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota, Author, Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago, Power, Justice, and the Environment

'Highly Recommended...Heart-breaking...Provides a good balance of the facts and personal perspectives from local leaders, townspeople, archives, government representatives, public health officials, and tribal leaders. Many viewers could benefit from the scientific and political lessons learned as well as hearing the passionate perspectives of the communities directly impacted. Appropriate for most high school students and adult audiences, the film should be of great interest to students and advocates interested in environmental justice, public health, policy, and environmental management issues.' Kristan Majors, Emory University, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Tar Creek is a stark warning against corporate greed and expensive, destructive, and community-destroying environmental catastrophes. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library collections.' The Midwest Book Review

'Powerful and disturbing...A sad tale about what a country will do to itself, and to its powerless native peoples, for the pursuit of wealth and war. It is dramatic viewing and highly recommended for anyone who lives in the United States or on the earth...Suitable for high school and college courses in cultural anthropology, development anthropology, environmental anthropology, Native American studies, and American studies, as well as general audiences.' Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Reviews Online

'It's not such a pretty picture. . . nor is the story behind it, but writer-director Matt Myers, who grew up just 25 miles away, could find no peace until he told it...A hard-hitting environmental documentary.' Cyndy Patrick, Sierra Magazine

'Engrossing...This eye-opening program documents this environmental disaster and the human costs of mining practices.' Candace Smith, Booklist

'A searing portrait of human and natural damage wrought by one of the largest zinc and lead mines on Earth...The story is powerful...This film would be useful for environmental writing classes, or anywhere people need to be reminded that mining has a profound human cost.' Bruce Johansen, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator

'This award-winning video follows negotiations for a buy-out and relocation of local nonnatives...[A] grim exploration of our toxic legacy...Doesn't spare mine owners, bureaucrats, or politicians.' David Conn, formerly with Surrey Libraries, Library Journal

'A powerful documentary...The film recognizes the societal importance of the lead, zinc, and other metals that were extracted, but it raises important questions about the severe costs, many of which continue to be borne decades after production has ceased...Presents a strong, multipronged scientific case that touches on human biology, hydrology, ecology, geology, and atmospheric science...The science is well researched and credible, and the social story is compelling.' Ben Sayler, Black Hills State University, Science Books and Films


Awards

Best Feature Documentary, Nickel Independent Film Festival
Director's Choice and Audience Choice, Southern Winds Film Festival
Nominated for Golden Panda Award, Wildscreen Festival, UK
Nominated for Best Feature Documentary, Trail Dance Film Festival
Kansas International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Durango Independent Film Festival
Artivist Film Festival
Wisconsin Film Festival
Black Bear Film Festival
Frozen River Film Festival
Colorado Environmental Film Festival
Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival
Oneota Film Festival
H20 Film Festival
Green Screen Environmental Film Festival
Twin Rivers Media Festival
Sunscreen Film Festival

Citation

Main credits

Myers, Matt (film producer)
Myers, Matt (narrator)
Myers, Matt (film director)
Beer, Tanya (film producer)

Other credits

Director of photography, Robert Billings; original music by Watermelon Slim; edited by Matt Myers.


Distributor credits

Ron and Cara Beer, Tanya Beer, Matt Myers

Matt Myers

Ron and Cara Beer, Tanya Beer, Matt Myers
Matt Myers
Written and Narrated by Matt Myers
Director of Photography: Robert Billings
Music: Watermelon Slim
A Jump the Fence Production

Docuseek subjects

Pollution
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Toxic Chemicals
Environmental Law
Environmental Justice

Distributor subjects

American Democracy
American Studies
Anthropology
Capitalism
Environment
Environmental Justice
Geography
Geology
Government
Health
History
Human Rights
Law
Mining
Native Americans
Natural Resources
Pollution
Social Justice
Sociology
Toxic Chemicals
Water

Keywords

Tar Creek, superfund site, EPA, pollution, toxic waste, toxic remains, lead and zinc mines, NE Oklahoma, Picher, Ottowa County, acid mine water, lead poisoning, sink holes, chat piles, decontamination, Quapaw tribe, environmental justice, buyout, relocation of homes, environmental wastelands, strategic mineral, BIA, Department of Interior, Sen. James Inhofe, Bob Nairn, Tim Keny, John Berrey, Mark Osborn,"Tar Creek",Bullfrog Films,doc,env; sociss

Welcome to Docuseek2!

Docuseek2 is a streaming platform of the best documentary and social issue films available for the higher education community.

Anyone may search for titles and find detailed information about the titles. To preview films or license them for streaming, you must register and login.

Currently, we support online registration for anyone affiliated with a higher education institution. Please inquire if you are with a K-12 district or school or with a public library.

Click the Close button to get started!