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EPA in Kansas

Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site, Caney, Montgomery County, Kansas - Fact Sheet, March 2018

Frequently Asked Questions and Public Availability Session

INTRODUCTION

The Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site is located in Caney, Kansas, and a surrounding part of southwestern Montgomery County. Lead contamination of residential yards at the site is a result of local smelting operations that date back to about a century ago.

In the early 1900s, the discovery of natural gas in the area helped spur the development of zinc and lead smelting operations in Caney and elsewhere in southeast Kansas, as the gas was used to fuel smelter furnaces.

Over time, lead particles from those smelters and related operations became airborne and settled onto area properties. The smelting operations caused lead contamination in nearby residential properties. EPA is sampling and cleaning up the lead at those contaminated properties. The federal government is funding the cleanup of contaminated properties.

PUBLIC AVAILABILITY SESSION

EPA Region 7 will hold a Public Availability Session in Caney to provide information and answer questions regarding the site. A presentation that provides updates about EPA’s progress at the site will begin at 6 p.m., and an open question-and-answer forum will last until 8 p.m.

The session will be held:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
6 to 8 p.m.
Caney City Hall
100 W 4th Avenue
Caney, KS 67333

WHY IS LEAD CONTAMINATION A CONCERN?

Lead is classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and is a cumulative toxicant. Lead exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. The early effects of lead poisoning are nonspecific and difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of minor seasonal illnesses. EPA is committed to reducing human health impacts at this site by working toward a solution to clean up the lead contamination.

WHAT IS EPA DOING ABOUT LEAD EXPOSURE?

EPA has established a soil removal action level for lead of 400 parts per million (or ppm) for residential properties and high child-impact areas such as schools and daycare facilities. In general, if residential soil lead levels are less than 400 ppm, then no further action or study is warranted. If lead levels are above 400 ppm, then EPA will typically conduct a cleanup of the contaminated areas of the property.

The cleanup action involves excavating up to 24 inches of lead-contaminated soil; backfilling the excavated area to original grade with clean backfill and topsoil; and restoring a grass lawn. If there are any gravel driveway areas that require cleanup, these areas are backfilled with new gravel.

In some instances, elevated lead levels are identified in “drip zones,” areas potentially influenced by lead-based paint. Drip zones extend three feet from building exteriors. EPA will not conduct a cleanup to remediate elevated lead levels in the drip zone if all other samples from the property are below 400 ppm. If elevated lead levels are limited to only the drip zone, EPA recommends the owner take action to protect current residents, as elevated lead levels in the drip zone are generally believed to be influenced by lead-based paint, a contaminant which is not being addressed during this cleanup action.

WHO WILL PAY FOR THE CLEANUP? WILL IT COST ME ANYTHING?

EPA is using resources from its Superfund program to address the cleanup, meaning the project is being funded by the federal government. There is no cost to residential property owners.

ARE THERE PENALTIES FOR NOT ALLOWING EPA TO SAMPLE OR CLEAN UP MY PROPERTY?

Although the federal government does have the authority to compel access for sampling or cleanup of contamination on private property, EPA does not have any plans to order private residential property owners to participate in the sampling/cleanup program at this time. EPA does not plan to put liens on properties, file deed notices, or in any other way penalize property owners who decline to participate in the federally-funded sampling or cleanup action. However, please be aware that if you decline to have your property sampled or cleaned up, it is unlikely that EPA will return to Caney to address your individual yard after this cleanup action is completed.

DOES LEAD CONTAMINATION EFFECT MY PROPERTY VALUE OR MY ABILITY TO SELL MY PROPERTY?

EPA is not typically involved in real estate transactions, especially single-family residential property transactions. Nevertheless, any real estate transaction could be affected by “recognized environmental conditions” or potential environmental impairment on the property. The impairment may affect the use or value of the property and/or the ability of a purchaser to obtain financing to buy the property if it is not properly addressed.

HOW MUCH WORK HAS EPA COMPLETED IN CANEY SO FAR?

So far, EPA has sampled about 1,000 residential properties and cleaned up over 200 properties which exceed the action level of 400 ppm, and EPA is continuing to sample and clean up properties. EPA projects that approximately 300 additional properties in Caney will need to be cleaned up.

HOW LONG IS THIS CLEANUP PROJECT GOING TO LAST?

EPA anticipates that this cleanup action will be completed in 2018.

HEALTH INFORMATION

Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults, and can develop lifelong disabilities and problems from lead exposure. Children can get lead from soil into their bodies by putting their hands or toys in their mouths after touching the soil. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also avoid exposure to lead to protect their children. Lead poisoning can cause negative health effects in infants and young children, including, but not limited to: slowed physical growth, hearing problems, nervous system damage, learning disabilities, hyperactivity and other behavioral problems, and decreased intelligence.

Lead exposure and its effects can be reduced by washing hands after playing outside and before meals; eating a diet high in calcium and iron; regularly cleaning floors, window sills, and other surfaces; regularly washing children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys; and removing shoes or wiping soil from shoes before entering your home. Children 7 years old and younger are most at risk from lead. It is important that children in this age range be tested annually, because lead-poisoned children do not always look or act sick. Call your local health department or physician to get your child tested.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For additional information about the Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site, please visit EPA's website.

For additional information about health effects from lead exposure, please visit the following websites: EPA's lead page and ATSDR's lead page.

Local residents without internet access are welcome to review the Administrative Record online at the following location during normal business hours:

Caney Public Library
211 W 5th Avenue
Caney, KS 67333
Phone: 620-879-5341

If you have questions or want to receive further information, please contact:

Pamela Houston 
Community Engagement Specialist
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7699
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425
Email: houston.pamela@epa.gov

Michael Davis
On-Scene Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7328
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425
Email: davis.michaelb@epa.gov