TOPEKA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded lead contamination of residential property in the southeast Kansas town of Caney is dangerous enough to be placed on the Superfund list.
“Adding the Caney residential yards site … will help us protect this rural community by replacing soil in yards where families gather and children play,” said Jim Gulliford, administrator of the EPA’s regional office in Lenexa. “Protecting children and families from lead exposure is one of Region 7’s highest priorities.”
The federal agency also proposed Tuesday adding a lead smelting site in Weir, which is another of southeast Kansas’ old mining locations, to the Superfund priority list due to human health and environmental risks. The Cherokee Zinc-Weir Smelter site has caused contamination of residential yards from smelting operations that date back about a century.
In recent years, sampling by EPA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified residential properties where soil contained more than 400 parts per million of lead, which is considered EPA’s action level for removal.
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement that many sites requiring expansion of the Superfund list were located in “vulnerable, low-income, and minority communities that deserve our attention.”
“EPA is demonstrating our commitment to assist overburdened communities in becoming cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous places to live, work, and go to school,” he said.
Nationally, six sites were placed on the Superfund roster and four locations were recommended for inclusion on the list.
The NPL includes the nation’s most serious abandoned or uncontrolled releases of environmental contamination. Only sites on the list are eligible for federal funding of long term, permanent cleaning operations.