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Joplin Tornado Lead Aid Hits $5.4M

Friday, February 21, 2014

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Federal authorities will provide an additional $2.5 million to help remedy extensive lead contamination in Joplin, MO, caused by the May 2011 tornado and subsequent recovery efforts.

This is the third installment of federal funding for the tornado-ravaged city and is provided under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program, through a cooperative agreement with Joplin.

Kansas City District Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr

The EF-5 tornado, with winds topping 200 mph, ripped through Joplin on May 22, 2011, killing 161 people and damaging nearly 8,000 structures. Rebuilding efforts are ongoing.

Under that agreement, EPA provided an initial $500,000 to the city in December 2011 to hire a remediation contractor and pay for equipment, testing services, soil excavation and soil replacement.

In October 2012, EPA provided an additional $2.4 million to cover remediation expenses and speed the city’s recovery.

Rebuilding Joplin

“EPA’s residential recovery partnership with the people of Joplin has now provided a total of $5.4 million in investments toward safer homes and neighborhoods across the city,” EPA’s Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said in a statement.

“Joplin has made dramatic strides in its rebuilding efforts, and this funding will keep that work moving toward a more full recovery.”

Tornado-Whipped Lead

The EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin on May 22, 2011, killing 161 people and injuring more than 1,000.

Bearing winds of more than 200 mph, the tornado damaged or destroyed nearly 8,000 structures, including homes, businesses, schools and churches.

Joplin cleanup
John Daves / U.S. Army

Structural demolition, tree removal and cleanup efforts after the tornado also disturbed contaminated soils at thousands of properties across the area, according to the EPA.

Not only did the deadly twister rip apart structures that contained lead, but it also disrupted soil under homes constructed on long-abandoned lead mines, according to Joplin officials.

Subsequent structural demolition, tree removal and cleanup efforts, also disturbed contaminated soils at thousands of properties across the area.

The old lead mines have been a long-standing issue for the area. EPA has been cleaning up mine and smelter wastes in the Joplin area since the mid-1990s. At the time of the tornado, EPA had already cleaned up more than 2,600 residential yards of material contaminated by lead and cadmium.

In support of EPA’s long-term yard remediation work, and to control against future exposures, Jasper County and the City of Joplin enacted ordinances requiring the testing of residential soils in certain parts of the city prior to redevelopment, according to the EPA.


Tagged categories: Disasters; EPA; Funding; Health and safety; Lead; Maintenance + Renovation; Rebuilding; Restoration

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