The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added a site in Caney in Montgomery County to its Superfund List of hazardous waste sites eligible for federally-funded long-term remedial cleanup, and has proposed adding another site in Weir in Cherokee County to the list, the Kansas Department of Health Environment (KDHE) announced this week.
As a result of historic smelting operations at the two sites, both contain lead, which can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, a KDHE press release noted.
The site in Caney, known as Caney Residential Yards, was home to the former Owens Zinc Company and the former American Zinc & Lead Smelting smelters.
In Weir, Chicago Zinc Works began smelting zinc in 1872. Although historical information indicates smelting operations likely ceased in 1909 when natural gas wells in other areas of Kansas made smelter operations from coal unprofitable, the smelting activities resulted in the generation of considerable quantities or ash, slag and other smelting wastes contaminated with heavy metals. Through time, lead particles from the Cherokee Zinc – Weir Smelter operation became airborne and settled across residential yards in the city, according to the KDHE.
The next steps for Caney include an investigation to determine the extent of contamination and completion of a baseline risk assessment. The next steps for the Cherokee Zinc – Weir Smelter site include a 60-day public comment period after publication in the Federal Register on Sept. 3. If the site continues to meet the listing requirements after the public comment period, it will be formally added to the Superfund National Priorities List.