It was the opposite of an Oklahoma land rush in Picher this week, as giant yellow CATs started knocking down abandoned homes and businesses in this town scarred by eight decades of mineral mining.
Most of the town, including its multiple piles of discarded rock, zinc and lead the size of office buildings and its poisoned ground water, is the federal government’s now, due to a $50 million buyout after years headlining the EPA’s Superfund list. The killing blow for Picher was a study released in 2007 that found the entire town to be at imminent risk of collapse without warning due to the abandoned mines. A sobering reminder that some environmental damage cannot be undone.
Learn more about six-month demolition process that started in late January 2011 through this Tulsa World article; and see the impact firsthand in Matt Myer’s stirring and sad film TAR CREEK.