Blackwell Uncovered
Contamination and You

The Truth about their Clean-up Standards.

After the second time the EPA was called into Blackwell in 1989 when the City of Blackwell failed its waste water treatment tests, the EPA started an in depth investigation of the contamination on the Blackwell Zinc Smelter Site. They had determined that the site was indeed highly contaminated, and the contamination was leaching into the ground water.  In the early 1990's the EPA's funds were running dry. so when the EPA found out the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality was soon to be established, and was already in negotiations with the potentially responsible party, it planned to allow the ODEQ supervise and clean-up the Blackwell Zinc Site.  They signed the Memorandum of Understanding in April 1994.  It stated that the ODEQ was to preform a CERCLA quality clean-up.  CERCLA is the short title for the EPA's Superfund Act, and grants the EPA jurisdiction in any contamination clean-up.  If the ODEQ did not preform a CERCLA quality clean-up, the EPA could come back and the Memorandum of Understanding would terminate.  The EPA only has oversight of the "Blackwell Zinc Site" not the City of Blackwell, because the City of Blackwell was never a Superfund site.  The "Blackwell Zinc Site" is an industrial park and therefore could warrant industrial standards for the soil clean-up.  Unfortunately the Phelps Dodge is using those industrial standards to determine if YOUR soil is contaminated.

The Record of Decision Says:

Category 1 Residential(There is no residential property on Blackwell Zinc Site)

Lead = 750ppm or mg/kg
Cadmium = 75ppm or mg/kg
Arsenic = 50ppm or mg/kg

Category 2 Commercial and industrial areas.

Lead = 2,000ppm or mg/kg
Cadmium = 200ppm or mg/kg
Arsenic = 200ppm or mg/kg

Even if,
there were Residential or recreational property on the Blackwell Zinc Smelter Site, the standards are NOT CERCLA QUALITYEven if the ODEQ established industrial standards, they are not CERCLA QUALITY and those levels of pollutants continue to re-contaminate the city when it rains or snows.

They lowered the standards to minimize the amount of clean-up that the ODEQ, Phelps Dodge and the Blackwell Industrial Authority were Responsible for. 
*Remember, the ODEQ was already in negotiations with "the potentially responsible party" prior to taking control of the Blackwell Zinc Site from the EPA.

Helpful Links

Nix, Patterson & Roach, LLP's Website has important information about the contamination lawsuit against Phelps Dodge and the Blackwell Industrial Authority.

Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Site

Blackwell Community Outreach
Phelps Dodge's Community fell good website.

Blackwell Community

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality...not really worth your time they don't tell you anything.

Blackwell Industrial Authority
They don't tell you anything either.

 Blackwell Industrial

Jessica Pepper pictured above is taking sediment samples from waterway next to the 5.5 Acre Lost Landfill. Samples are to be dried and tested with the XRF Analyzer purchased by iRock Inc.

What's Your "Level" of Concern?

Unfortunately Blackwell Zinc Smelter waste is everywhere in Blackwell.  During the operation of the plant, people from all over town would haul "free fill material" from the plant to be used on their property.  This makes it hard to determine which house are contaminated the most.  Also water run off from the site, then and still today, drains into a creek system the runs through town.  These creeks run through the parks, ballparks and fairground, and are hard to avoid.  Years of prevailing winds carried the toxic metals into homes for over 50 years.

It is OUR concern that you understand what is your readings on your "Voluntary Soil Sampling" results from Phelps Dodge really mean.

EPA's Arsenic Site
Side Effects: Thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, numbness of the hands and feet; partial paralysis; and blindness. Arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.

Safe Levels in soil: 3 mg/kg

To learn how to limit your exposure to arsenic, you can visit, Ontario Fact Sheet or
Washington State Arsenic Fact Sheet.

EPA's Lead Site
Side Effects: Developmental and neurological impairment in children.  Lead poisoning been linked to mental retardation, poor academic performance and juvenile delinquency. 

Blackwell's Childern Blood Lead Levels

Blackwell Journal-Tribune artical May 1976 "Juvenile Crime, everyones problem"

Blood Lead Levels linked to Lead in Soil - CDC

Safe Levels of Lead in Soil were children play: 400mg/kg

CDC's Cadmium Webpage

Side Effects: Cadmium accumulates in the kidneys causing kidney damage. It also causes diarrhea, stomach pain, severe vomiting, bone fractures, reproductive failure/infertility, damage to the central nervous system, damage to the immune system, psychological disorders, and possible cancer.

Safe levels in Soil: 5.49 mg/kg

Read the Groundwater Record of Decision

ATSDR Zinc Fact Sheet

Side Effects: Stomic Cramps, Vomiting and Nausea.

Safe Levels are set at 5 mg/m3 for zinc oxide in the workplace. That for a 8 hour work day, 40 hour work week.

EPA Mercury Fact Sheet

Side Effects: Kidney Failure

Safe Levels are set at 2 parts per billion for water and soil.

Above Picture: A walk path used by the employees of the Blackwell Zinc Co. In the field on the right hand side of the picture is littered with old smelter waste. See Smelter waste photos below.

When the EPA need to determine if the Superfund Site that is under evaluation needs to be put on the National Priorities List, they preform a Hazard Ranking System analysis.  Blackwell's overall score was 70.71.

EPA Letter with HRS Score for Blackwell

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