Skip to Main Content

DEQ Title, click to go to DEQ home page


Sod House Sod House

Land Protection Division
Tar Creek Section

Contact: Dennis Datin at 405-702-5100

For more recent information also see here

These pages last modified July 14, 2015

Tar Creek Ruins

The DEQ is the designated state agency to carry out investigation and remediation of Oklahoma Superfund sites. The largest and most challenging of the Oklahoma sites is Tar Creek.

The Oklahoma portion of the former Tri-State Mining District encompasses more than 40 square miles, five towns, and an entire watershed in far northeastern Oklahoma. Extensive lead and zinc mining and ore processing left tons of mine waste (chat) in huge piles and flotation ponds that contain high concentrations of heavy metals. After mining ceased in the 1970’s the underground mines filled with groundwater which eventually lead to seeps of metal laden, sometimes acidic mine water contaminating streams and shallow groundwater.

Actions at the site have included: groundwater and surface water work, residential property remediation to limit lead exposure in children, mine and smelter waste remediation, investigation of creek sediments, and a voluntary buyout of citizens in the affected area. The following documents and web links cover a multitude of documents and other sources of information that have been produced or are currently available.

Superfund Documents

Tar Creek was added to the National Priorities list in 1983 making it officially a Superfund site. These documents explain the site recommendations and decisions made by EPA

Record of Decisions

Remedial Investigation Report (OU4)

Feasibility Study

Five Year Reviews

Chat Use

Over one hundred million tons of chat remains on the Tar Creek site. These documents contain information about proper use of chat and studies of the characteristics of chat.

Chat Available

Analysis Report of Grinding Mine Tailings (Chat) from Two Piles at the Tar Creek Superfund Site (August 2013)

EPA Beneficial Uses for Chat

EPA Chat Fact Sheet

EPA Chat Sales Fact Sheet

EPA Chat Rule

EPA OU4 Chat Processing Site Operating Plan (Draft)

Summary Report of Washed and Unwashed Mine Tailings (Chat), 2000

Sampling and Metal Analysis of Chat Piles in the Tar Creek Superfund Site, April 2002

Summary Report of Washed and Unwashed Mine Tailings (Chat), Revised June 2003

Cementitious Stabilization of Raw Chat for Roadway Base Application

Study to Optimize the Use of Chat in Hot Mix Asphalt

Residential Soil Sampling Procedure

OU Test Road Final Report


DEQ studied metals concentrations in fish from waters impacted by the Tri-State Mining District, including Tar Creek. Fish consumption advisories were issued as a result.

DEQ Fish Consumption Recommendations for the Tar Creek Area

DEQ Fish Consumption – Press Release

2003 Fish Tissue Metals Analysis in the Tri-State Mining Area

2007 Fish Tissue Metals Analysis in the Tri-State Area Follow up Study

GIS Applications

GIS Dataviewer

Tar Creek Buyout

In 2006, legislation was passed that allowed for the voluntary buyout of citizens in the area.

Senate Bill 1463

Relocation Assistance Zone Map


ODOT Categorical Exclusion


SHPO Documentation

Natural Resources Damages

The Tar Creek Trustee Council, including the State of Oklahoma, is conducting NRD assessment activities at the Tar Creek Superfund Site.

NRD Damage Assessment Plan

Proceedings of the 2005 Tri-State NRD Forum


Roubidoux Monitoring

Phase II after action monitoring conducted by DEQ 1996 – 2002 and long term monitoring of the Roubidoux was conducted by DEQ 2003-2008.

After Action Monitoring of the Roubidoux Aquifer

Fact Sheet: Special well Construction and Testing for the Boone Aquifer at the Tar Creek Superfund Site

Summary Report of Roubidoux Water Quality, September 2002

Technical Report: After Action Monitoring of the Roubidoux Aquifer

Monitoring of the Roubidoux Water Quality at the Tar Creek Superfund Sitel

Tar Creek Long Term Monitoring Reports

Oklahoma Plan for Tar Creek

In 2004, a multi-faceted, multi-agency plan was created to address numerous issues at Tar Creek. The Plan accomplished many activities but funding for the projects was redirected towards buyout in 2006.

Oklahoma Plan for Tar Creek

Summary Report and Water Quality Analyses for the McNeely-Green Monitoring Well

Addendum 1 for the McNeely-Green Monitoring Well

Governor’s Task Force October 2001

This study was commissioned by Governor Frank Keating in 2000 to develop a comprehensive remediation plan for the area.

Additional Documents

Other documents relating to the Tar Creek site.

USGS report on Metals in Sediments & Streams

Occurrence and Trends of Selected Chemical Constituents in Bottom Sediment, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, Northeast Oklahoma, 1940–2008

Development of Holistic Remediation Alternatives for the Catholic 40 and Beaver Creek

Surface-Water Quality in the Grand-Neosho River Basin, Northeastern Oklahoma

Web Links

Links to other web pages with Tar Creek information








































Return to Land Protection Division Home Page