EPA to buy Kansas town

"The Wichita Eagle reports that Congress has approved funds to relocate the population of the southeast Kansas town of Treece, which is plagued with lead, zinc and other chemical contamination left by a century of mining. Estimates say it will cost about $3 million to $3.5 million to buy out the town, which is surrounded by huge piles of mining waste called 'chat' and dotted with uncapped shafts and cave-ins filled with brackish, polluted water. 'It's been a long, dusty, chat-covered road, but for the citizens of Treece, finally, help will be on the way,' said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas who has been pushing for a buyout of Treece for two years. The population of Treece has dwindled to about 100 people, almost all of whom want to move but say they can't because the pollution and an ongoing EPA cleanup project makes it impossible to sell a house. The EPA has already bought out the neighboring town of Picher, Oklahoma, stripping Treece of quick access to jobs, shopping, recreation and services, including fire protection and cable TV. Both cities were once prosperous mining communities but the ore ran out and the mines were abandoned by the early 1970s. Of 16 children tested for lead levels in Treece, two had levels between 5 and 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood and one had a level of more than 10, the threshold for lead poisoning."
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