Creek near Broken Arrow landfill site shows little or no radioactive material: EPA tests


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The U.S. EPA released the results of sediment and water tests that appear to show little or no radioactive material present in a creek near the defunct Broken Arrow Landfill.

The samples were taken on Nov. 1 from an unnamed tributary of Adams Creek just west of the landfill and tested for thorium 232, radium 228, actinium 228, thorium 228, lead 212, bismuth 212 and thallium 208.

The samples appear to show the levels of those substances found on the water and sediment are less than the “background” or mean soil levels for those contaminants.

Radium-228, Actinium-228, Thorium-228, Lead-212, Bismuth-212, and Thallium-208 are daughter radioisotopes produced with the decay of Thorium-232.

The laboratory results were “significantly below” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Effluent Concentration Standards in Water

The EPA assessed reported contamination on 7 acres of the former landfill in December 2021 and March 2022 and evaluated “the nature and extent of reported radiologically contaminated soil” that was present.

Conditions at the EPA Superfund site included elevated levels of radionuclides in the soils at or near the surface, with the primary concern being the presence of thorium-contaminated soil “above a site-specific, risk-based action level.”

Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon said Wednesday the results “confirm the EPA’s comments in public meetings that the material is contained in solid form on site and is not migrating off the property to the point it presents a level of concern.

“A representative with the EPA has informed us the agency has concluded its remediation efforts for now and its team has left the site of the private property. While the agency was on site, it laid down 12 inches of a clay cap over the materials and secured the land with a new 6-foot-tall chain link fence that is padlocked and topped with barbed wire. It will remain this way while the EPA continues its investigation.”

Spurgeon said city staff will continue to engage the EPA and ODEQ regarding the ongoing investigation and provide residents with an update when new information is available.

The EPA is investigating in hopes of identifying who was responsible for depositing radioactive waste at the site, which the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality entered into the state’s brownfields program in 2008.

The EPA had plans to haul the material away this month but this fall discovered far more material than anticipated. 


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