Joplin, MO gets $2.4M to deal with soil problems

JOPLIN, Mo. -- Joplin will receive $2.4 million in federal funding to deal with soil contamination stirred up by the May 2011 tornado, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

The money, from the Superfund program, will help Joplin test and cleanup soil that was contaminated with lead and cadmium during the EF-5 tornado that ripped through the southwest Missouri city on May 22, 2011, killing 161 people.

Lead and cadmium contamination has long been an issue in Joplin, and much of it is honeycombed by long-abandoned lead and zinc mines. The EPA began a cleanup effort around Joplin in the early 1990s that is still going on.

The storm and post-storm demolition disturbed soil in an area that contained mine waste or that used mine waste during construction and landscaping, the EPA's regional office said in a news release.

Joplin plans to put the money toward replacing contaminated soil and restoring yards at dozens of homes, parks, playgrounds and other city sites over the next three years.

The federal agency said that tornado-related soil remediation work in Joplin has been completed at 26 residential yards, and there are 21 other properties currently being cleaned up. Another 28 are confirmed and await remediation.