BRISTOW, Okla. - First some people in Bristow found out they're living on a Superfund site, now they may be stuck there.
After a series of stories, FOX23’s Janna Clark looked into why the government's way of helping may be hurting people.
Stephen Lane talks about his home in the past tense now, a log home on 10 acres on the north edge of Bristow.
It’s where Lane and his wife wanted to raise their boys. There shouldn’t be a metal fence, barbed wire and a lock, but there is, and a no trespassing sign highlighted in red.
MORE: Complete coverage of Bristow
Inside the fence is the black gooey stuff that ruined everything.
“That’s the junk right there,” Lane showed FOX23.
When Lane bought his land in 2007, he didn’t know about it.
“(About) my property and their contamination,” he said.
Oil byproducts dumped in Lane’s backyard years ago.
“(They) dug a big trench and pushed all that crud in it, covered it up with dirt. It’s now coming up,” he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency put a fence around a dozen spots where oily sludge seeped up.
“There’s one… a band of that stuff that’s as big as that boat,” said Lane.
And outside the fence?
“It’ll turn real hard like this,” Lane said and pointed out piles of the same stuff dried up on the land.
Lane gave FOX23 a tour of the area.
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An EPA document says 5,000 people live within 2 miles of the site and 19 people live right on it.
The sheet says the land is contaminated with “unacceptable levels of lead and total petroleum hydrocarbons.”
FOX23 talked with Bob Bowcock via Skype. He works with Erin Brockovich and is investigating Bristow.
“What can that cause?” asked Clark.
“All the types of cancers we’re worried about in Bristow and other things. To allow people - even one - to live on a legacy problem these corporations caused is pathetic,” said Bowcock.
The EPA said it’s figuring out who the responsible parties are to clean up the site. So far, that's taken almost a year.
“How long do these people have to wait?” Clark asked Bowcock.
“Oh, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately there’s no end in sight,” he said.
Waiting for results
Lane quit building his shop, stopped fishing his pond, but he feels trapped.
“Would you buy a house you knew was on a Superfund site? No one would,” he said.
“So you still feel stuck?” asked Clark.
“Yeah unless you want to leave, get foreclosed on,” Lane said.
Lane worries when his son plays in the dirt.
“You don’t know what it’s going to do later on,” he said.
And he’s worried how he's going to get his family out of here.