PICHER, Okla. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking residents near a polluted site in northeast Oklahoma how much fish they eat and how often they wade in the local waters.

Two surveys were administered by the EPA’s Technical Assistance for Communities to residents of areas near the Tar Creek Superfund site, the Tulsa World reported. They ask residents to gauge the accuracy of certain statements and offer comments for improvements.

“The EPA uses a formula to determine human health risk, and this was an opportunity for residents to say if it was accurate and, if not, to give information that could support making it more protective,” said Rebecca Jim of the Local Environmental Action Demanded or LEAD, a nonprofit.

The 40-square-mile (64-kilometer) site encompasses a portion of the Tar Creek, Elk Creek, Spring River, Neosho River and Grand Lake watersheds.

The EPA is still in the planning phase to deal with sediment concentrations and possible cleanup methods for the site.

“The cleanup is based on the risk to humans,” Jim said. “If people are spending more time in the water, messing with the sediment, eating aquatic creatures, including fish more than they figured in their formula, they had a chance to say so.”

EPA Region Six spokesman David Gray said the public comments will help the agency develop clean-up goals for the site.

“The assumptions will account for exposures such as the amount of fish and plants collected and consumed by the public,” said Gray. “These exposures can vary from community to community, so involving the public directly in this process will result in a cleanup goal appropriate for the local area.”


Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com