EPA Chief Scott Pruitt says how the government has handled the Tar Creek Superfund site is “really unacceptable.”
It’s what he said in a roundtable meeting with several reporters from news organizations including the Tulsa World, noting how the site dates back to the early 1980s.
“You don’t list a site in the mid-1980s and you don’t take the kind of steps we have taken historically and still have issues today in 2018,” said the former Oklahoma Attorney General. ““When it takes you 27, 28 years to make a decision — make a decision, not clean it up, not remediate, but make a decision on how you are going to remediate — that is unacceptable.”
He maintained that his new effort to improve the Superfund program will finally bring clarity and accountability to the Tar Creek area.
Pruitt put the blame squarely on the EPA, the agency that he took control of last year following the election of President Donald Trump. He pointed the finger of blame on what he called “inconsistency” in the EPA’s 10 regions for not focusing on remediation outcomes.
“It is one of the things that seemed to be languishing as we arrived,” Pruitt said, making it clear that the lack of urgency was something he found “palpable” at Superfund sites across the country.
While Pruitt spoke of his efforts to bring “clarity” to the Tar Creek cleanup, he wouldn’t comment about the lawsuit filed by the Washington DC based Campaign for Accountability seeking an audit sealed by Pruitt when he was attorney general.
“This is during my time as attorney general. I think it is better that I just keep it focused on the EPA matters,” he told reporters.
The audit, carried out by State Auditor Gary Jones suggested criminal wrongdoing by the public trust which had the responsibility of buyouts of homes and businesses around the Tar Creek communities. Current Attorney General Mike Hunter has also followed the actions of Pruitt by keeping the report sealed.