Former Oklahoma Mining Community Looking at Sept. 1 Demise

June 24, 2009

Ravaged by decades of lead and zinc mining and a deadly tornado that killed six people last year, the northeastern Oklahoma town of Picher is likely to close Sept. 1.

But Mayor Tim Reeves says officials are still working to supply utilities to residents who choose to remain after that.

Picher’s population has dwindled as residents accepted federal buyouts. A tornado last year that killed six people and destroyed 20 city blocks hastened the exodus.

Picher is part of a 40-square-mile area that the federal EPA put on its Superfund list in 1983, years after mining companies pulled out.

A 2006 study showed that the abandoned lead and zinc mines underneath Picher and nearby communities had a high risk of caving in, prompting a federal buyout.

Information from: Tulsa World,

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