JOPLIN — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $20.5 million contract to clean up mine waste around Baxter Springs, Kan.
EPA spokeswoman Debbie Kring said Encon International of El Paso, Texas, will start the work in November or December. The project will take three or four years.
The contract calls for the company to excavate 2.2 million cubic yards of surface mine waste over about 386 acres. The excavated areas then would be regraded and planted with native grasses.
The site is in the Kansas portion of the historic Tri-State Mining District, encompassing 2,500 square miles in southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri. Lead and zinc mining in Kansas began in the 1870s and continued into the next century, leaving surface mine deposits throughout Cherokee County.