City says radiation levels at former Broken Arrow Landfill at ‘acceptable level’


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The city of Broken Arrow released a statement Thursday about the radioactive material found at the defunct Broken Arrow Landfill, saying EPA surveys show radiation levels are at an “acceptable level.”

City Manager Michael Spurgeon said the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) this year requested the EPA to assist with the assessment and removal of the soil at the landfill near E. Kenosha St. and 219th East Ave S., in the Wagoner County portion of Broken Arrow.

In August, the EPA decided to conduct additional testing and collect samples of the sediment and surface water of city-owned land adjacent to the brownfield property.

“We granted permission for the samples to be collected and have been advised that the EPA did not expect to discover any radioactivity in the collected samples. However, the conclusive results of the testing have not yet been provided to the City of Broken Arrow,” Spurgeon said, adding that the results of the tests would be shared with the public.

The EPA said in November there was “significantly more material found than anticipated” earlier this year that contained Thorium 232 and its decay products. The EPA is covering the 7 acres in question with compacted clay, and a 6-foot-high chain link fence with barbed wire has been installed around the site.

“Since the entire site is in the process of being capped … and access to the site is restricted, there is no anticipated exposure to the contamination” by the public, an EPA spokesperson said this week, adding that the EPA investigation is still ongoing and the specifics of the probe couldn’t be discussed.

Said Spurgeon, “We certainly understand the concern that some residents have expressed about this site, especially in light of the recent media coverage of the planned removal. However, the radiation count remains at an acceptable level, according to a recent survey of the land conducted by the EPA.

“Please rest assured that city leadership will continue monitoring the developments of the EPA’s work, maintain communication with the agency, update you when new information is made available, and work with our federal representation to ensure the best interests of our citizens are met.”

Spurgeon said the ODEQ has worked with a private property owner on the approximate 76-acre tract of land. At about that time, ODEQ entered the property into its Brownfields Program, which addresses property that is complicated by the presence of some type of hazardous substance.

Spurgeon said that after several years of testing, ODEQ determined only 7 acres needed to be mitigated. The EPA has since said it is considering the 7-acre tract for possible listing on its National Priority List for cleanup.

The Sentinel sent several questions to ODEQ earlier this week about the history of the property but no answers have been returned as of Thursday evening.

The city of Broken Arrow provided the links below regarding the EPA’s investigation of the site. The EPA held two public meetings about the land this year.

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