"Congress authorized buying out the residents of the contaminated community of Treece [Kansas] on Thursday, and the Environmental Protection Agency signaled it's ready to move forward with emptying the town of people.
The House and Senate both approved an environmental appropriations bill that includes language allowing the EPA to spend money to relocate the population of the tiny southeast Kansas city, which is plagued with lead, zinc and other chemical contamination left by a century of mining.
The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law by Saturday.
Shortly after Thursday's Senate vote, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a statement saying that relocation is the "primary option" for addressing the problem in Treece.
Estimates say it will cost about $3 million to $3.5 million to buy out the town, which is surrounded by huge piles of mining waste called chat and dotted with uncapped shafts and cave-ins filled with brackish, polluted water."