Soil tests taken near the salt and sand storage building (shown above) in the former city public works yard show localized chloride contamination in surface and shallow soils, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Contaminants have been found in the soil and groundwater around the site of Derby’s former public works facility, the area where the city now wants to create a park.
Both soil and groundwater testing in the former public works yard at 322 W. Market, on Derby’s west end next to the Arkansas River, show localized lead and chloride (salt) contamination, according to a letter from Rick Bean, remedial section chief with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The contamination is above acceptable residential risk-based standards for Kansas in surface and shallow soils, he said.
The findings of the state study were not a surprise, since the property has been used for purposes which tend to be risky for contamination. Since 1952 the site has been used by the city for a wastewater treatment plant, police shooting range and the public works yard, according to Kathy Sexton, city manager.
"The heavy industrial use of the site requires us to look at the potential for contaminants," she said. "It was assumed for years that some site cleanup would need to be performed if the city wanted to turn the land into a park."
KDHE agreed with the city and began looking at the site in May. The trace lead levels are consistent with the use as a shooting range and the sodium chloride (salt) is due to the previous stockpiling and use of road salt/sand. In addition, asbestos has been found in floor tiles in some of the buildings.
"These findings are not uncharacteristic of land that has been used in this manner," Sexton said.
The situation is not uncommon in the city or across the state and there are 14 other sites in Derby which have had or still have some type of contamination. The state has established the Brownsfield program to help communities alleviate problems with contamination and the public works yard has been accepted into the program, Sexton said.
The state has also suggested the city enter the Voluntary Cleanup and Property Redevelopment Program. That program provides KDHE oversight of the cleanup effort.
Additional testing will be necessary to determine what action is needed, she said. The city will seek funding grants for both further testing and the actual cleanup, although those actual costs have yet to be determined.
The asbestos found in the buildings is not a problem until they are demolished, she said. Procedures for asbestos removal are typically well defined.
Sexton said the contaminants found in the testing will be completely cleaned up through the voluntary cleanup program. When that is done, the state will issue a "no further action needed" notification. That is believed to ensure there is not an active health risk for the redevelopment of the property, she said.
The new Public Works Facility, just east of 55th and Oliver, has been designed to avoid the problems which are now found in the former site. The city staff, engineers and architects worked to minimize future problems at the new site – from the roof tiles down, Sexton said.
The city is working to meet all environmental regulations set by KDHE, including groundwater regulations, and it also meets OSHA standards and international building codes.
"Like most of the world, the city of Derby is much more aware of environmental issues than it was in the 1950s," she said. "The new facility is designed to be very ‘green,’ as in environmentally friendly in its use of natural resources for daily operations and in preventing future contamination."
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