Associated Press - May 20, 2008 10:25 PM ET
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has made $8 million available to expedite the relocation of residents from pollution-scarred and tornado-ravaged Picher.
Senator James Inhofe says the money will go first to help the victims of the deadly May 10th tornado in the state's northeastern tip.
Seven people died when the EF-4 twister, with winds from 165 to 175 miles per hour, slammed into the community, which already is beset by mine collapses and mountains of lead-contaminated mine waste.
Governor Brad Henry says after the environmental dangers of Tar Creek and the deadly twister, it would have been unconscionable to ask residents to wait months or years on a buyout program.
Inhofe says the funding will be made available in two segments.
The first involves $3 million from funds he specifically directed for relocation previously. The EPA also will release $5 million through Superfund program resources that are slated for Tar Creek relocation efforts.