EPA Announces New Cleanup Projects in Kansas as Part of Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America Agenda

LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 27, 2024) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a third and final wave of over $1 billion for cleanup projects at more than 100 Superfund sites across the country, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.

This funding is made possible by the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will launch new cleanup projects at 25 Superfund sites, including the Cherokee County Superfund Site in Kansas.

“This historic investment into our communities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide additional funding for the cleanup project at the Cherokee County Superfund Site in southeast Kansas,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “Historic mine waste in the area has contaminated residential and non-residential areas. Cleaning up this site is essential to protecting the health of our communities and the environment.”

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds have been and continue to be important building blocks to improving the health and quality of drinking water for all Kansans,” said Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Janet Stanek. “The investment in the cleanup at Kansas sites is crucial to improving a sustainable water infrastructure across the state.”

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding announced today, the Cherokee County Superfund Site will have additional funding to continue cleanup projects. The site is a part of the larger, regional mining area known as the Tri-State Mining District. Years of widespread lead and zinc mining have created mine tailings covering over 4,000 acres. The mine tailings have contaminated residential and non-residential soils, surface water, sediment, and groundwater with lead, zinc, and cadmium. Site work is designated to nine operable units with varying work statuses.

In addition to the Cherokee County site and 25 new cleanups announced, today’s investment supports continued construction at a number of other Superfund sites across Kansas:

In Wichita, at the 57th and North Broadway Streets Superfund Site, EPA is moving toward the remedial action phase and will install a groundwater extraction/treatment system to treat a contaminated groundwater plume.
In Caney, at the Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site, remedial project managers are currently working with community members to gain access to residential properties to facilitate sampling for lead in residential soils and, if a property qualifies, commence with residential property remediation.
In Great Bend, at the Plating Inc. Superfund Site, work recently began to address a 2-mile-long groundwater plume that was contaminated with hexavalent chromium. The source of the contaminant plume was from leaking in-ground plating baths and an outside air vent that discharged chrome particulates onto the ground.

Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed. These sites can include toxic chemicals from manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining, and present risks to human health and the well-being of local communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

“After three rounds of investments, EPA is delivering on President Biden’s full promise to invest in cleaning up America’s most contaminated Superfund sites,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “This final round of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has made it possible for EPA to initiate clean ups at every single Superfund site where construction work is ready to begin. This is an incredible milestone in our efforts to clean up and protect communities, deliver local jobs, enhance economic activity, and improve people’s lives for years to come.”

Today’s investment is the final wave of funding from the $3.5 billion allocated for Superfund cleanup work in the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. So far, EPA has deployed over $2 billion for cleanup activities at more than 150 Superfund National Priorities List sites. Thanks to President Biden’s commitment to addressing legacy pollution and improving public health, EPA has been able to provide as much funding for cleanup work in the past two years as it did in the previous five years, while delivering on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

EPA is committed to continue carrying out this work, advancing environmental justice and incorporating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process. More than one in four Black and Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site. These investments are restoring the health and economic vitality of communities that have been exposed to pervasive legacy pollution. Thus far, nearly 80% of the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has gone to sites in communities with potential environmental justice concerns. Of the 25 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, over 75% are in communities with potential environmental justice concerns, based on data from EPA’s EJScreen.

The historic investment made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law strengthens every part of the Superfund Program, making a dramatic difference in EPA’s ability to tackle threats to human health and the environment. In addition to funding cleanup construction work, this investment is enabling EPA to increase funding for and accelerate the essential work needed to prepare sites for construction and to ensure that communities are meaningfully involved in the cleanup process. In 2023, EPA continued to fund Superfund pre-construction activities, such as remedial investigations, feasibility studies, remedial designs, and community involvement at double pre-Bipartisan Infrastructure Law levels.

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERLCA), commonly known as Superfund. The law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, EPA steps in to address risks to human health and the environment using funds appropriated by Congress, like the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

View a list of the 25 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects.
View highlights from the first two years of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding at Superfund sites.
Learn more about EPA’s Superfund Program.

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