Today’s New York Times has an article about the Tar Creek Superfund Site, titled “Last Ones Left in a Toxic Kansas Town”. The Tar Creek Superfund Site is an area along the Kansas/Oklahoma border which was mined for lead and zinc for much of the twentieth century. When the price for ore dropped, the mining companies went bankrupt or closed up and left behind some of the worst polluted land in the U.S.
When the mining companies left, they shut down pumps that kept the mines from filling with water. The water filled the underground caverns and flushed heavy metals onto the surface. Flowing water erodes the mines and causes sinkholes.
The government is buying out the properties left in Treece, but the water from the mines goes into drinking water systems for the surrounding areas.
The New York Times article includes some photos. These three videos are a series on the site that was done in 2000. You can see the orange water flowing and some of the sinkholes. Also, the high chat piles that loom over a landscape in an area that is naturally flatter than a pancake.
Part 1, Lead Poison
Part 2, Subsidence and Cave-ins
Part 3, Political Morass