The new federal funding comes from EPA’s Superfund program, through a cooperative agreement with the city. Under that agreement, EPA provided an initial $500,000 to Joplin in December 2011 to hire a remediation coordinator 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.
“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,” Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “Joplin has made dramatic strides in its rebuilding efforts, and this funding will keep that work moving toward a more full recovery.”
The EF-5 tornado that swept through the heart of Joplin on May 22, 2011, killed 161 people and injured more than 1,000 others. Bearing winds of more than 200 mph, the tornado damaged or destroyed nearly 8,000 structures, including homes, businesses, schools and churches. The tornado itself, along with subsequent structural demolition, tree removal and cleanup efforts, disturbed soils at thousands of properties across the area, including many homes that had been built on historic mine waste areas, or that used mine waste as fill material at some point during their construction and landscaping.
EPA has been cleaning up mine and smelter wastes in the Joplin area since the mid-1990s. At the time of the May 2011 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