Last ones left in Treece, Kan., a toxic town
Treece, Kansas, is a poisoned town. Only one house remains. Tim and Della Busby are the lone residents of the community today. And they say they're staying put. Even if it's toxic, Treece is still their home.
This tiny community in southeast Kansas used to be a bustling mining enclave -- with a school, hundreds of homes and bars the got rowdy with drunken miners on payday.
But, the mines that turned Treece into a boomtown ultimately left it lifeless and abandoned.
It's a toxic ghost town now. All but two residents left when the federal government offered buyouts to the 138 people who stuck around after the mines shut down, the Kansas City Star reports.
The Environmental Protection Agency says decades of zinc and lead mining have left the soil, water and air contaminated.
Massive piles of poisoned mining debris, called chat, litter the streets. The mines that were dug beneath the town are turning the ground into Swiss cheese, as massive sink holes develop throughout the town -- many big enough and deep enough to swallow a man whole.
In 2009, the federal government began offering buy-outs for the residents of Treece after Congress approved $3.5 million to vacate the town and turn it into a Superfund site.
Treece was abandoned after nearby Picher, Oklahoma, which sits just across the state line, was bought out by the federal government and bought out for the same reason -- lead contamination left by decades of mining.
Picher's buyout came first -- it was a historic event, the government giving people cash to leave the town they'd lived on their lives.
However, the EPA tried to save Treece. Only one child out of 16 in the town tested positive for having dangerously high levels of lead.
But the damage in Treece was already done, the residents no longer believed it was safe to live there.
After Picher was abandoned, the town government in Treece also asked for a buy-out.
When it finally came, the EPA offered residents about $40,000 each for their homes. By 2010, 63 out of 64 homeowners sold out and their houses were torn down.
stay put: 停留不走，待在原地