Cleanup - Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
- Who is cleaning up the environmental contaminants at the Sunflower site, which are left over from the property’s time as an ammunition plant?
The Army Corps of Engineers is fulfilling its obligation to clean up all environmentally hazardous materials at the site.
All other remediation – like the removal of blighted buildings -- is the responsibility of the owner, Sunflower Redevelopment Group, LLC.
The Federal Government pays for the environmental remediation and has indicated this site is a priority.
All soil is expected to be remediated by 2028 and groundwater two years after. However, the Army will continue to sample groundwater for the next 20 to 30 years.
No; De Soto gets water from the river which goes directly to the City's water treatment plant.
All hazardous material is taken to a landfill licensed to take hazardous waste. Pipes and concrete that were contaminated by explosives are flash burned; this is a process in which the Army builds a temporary burn pad, stacks wood pallets with the sewers on top, and then ignites the pallets, causing a high enough heat to burn off the explosives. The sifted material then goes to the landfill while some concrete gets reused.
Most production occurred in the center of the plant so cross-property line contamination is unlikely. The Army reported that it hasn’t seen any evidence so far that contamination has crossed property lines.
The former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (SFAAP) is located near DeSoto, Kansas, in the northwest corner of Johnson County. It is approximately 30 miles southwest of Kansas City, Kansas, and 16 miles east of Lawrence, Kansas. SFAAP includes approximately 9,065 acres and is primarily surrounded by agricultural land. It is bounded on the east by Spoon and Kill Creeks and on the west by Captain Creek (Figure 1). The plant consisted of production facilities, administrative and storage facilities, powerhouses, landfills, lagoons, ditches, burning grounds, sumps, projectile ranges, and waste treatment facilities. Most of the assets of the plant are no longer in active use.
The Army commissioned SFAAP in March 1942 to produce smokeless powder and other propellants. The propellants produced consisted of the base explosives: nitrocellulose (NC), nitroglycerine (NG), and nitroguanidine (NQ). The facility also produced certain other chemicals necessary to produce the explosives (e.g., nitric and sulfuric acids). NC and NG powder production began in March 1943. NC and NG production was carried out at various times between the 1940s and early 1970s. Only nitric acid, sulfuric acid, oleum (concentrated sulfuric acid), and NQ were manufactured between 1971 and 1992, with most of the installation in inactive status. The plant was declared excess in 1998 by the U.S. Army and the property was made available for sale. The property was formally sold to Sunflower Redevelopment, Inc. in 2005.
In August 1980, SFAAP submitted a notification of hazardous waste activity to obtain interim status for the treatment and storage of hazardous wastes. In December 1991, KDHE and the EPA jointly issued SFAAP an RCRA hazardous waste management permit, Parts I and II. Part I, administered by KDHE, authorizes the storage of hazardous wastes. Part II, administered by the EPA Region 7, required the investigation of releases from 49 Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs). After Part II was issued in 1991, additional SWMUs and Areas of Concern (AOCs) were identified. An AOC is an area where hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents have been identified but are not linked to a specific solid waste management practice. There are currently 70 SWMUs and 25 AOCs at the former SFAAP. The Army completed several site-specific studies investigating the potential for releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents at SFAAP (Law, 1996, USACHPPM, 1998).