For Immediate Release
May 16, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Cleanup Begins at Former Avery Hydraulic Jack Site in Wichita on May 19

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will begin cleanup activities at the former Avery Hydraulic Jack site located at 717 E. Harry in Wichita on Monday, May 19. Soil contaminated with radium and lead will be excavated and replaced with clean soil by the end of the week.

The site was the location of an aircraft instrument repair shop during the late 1960s. The breakdown and stripping of instrument dials containing glow-in-the-dark radium paint resulted in soil contamination. The owners and occupants of an appliance repair shop now located at the site were not involved in the aircraft instrument repair shop.

KDHE identified the contamination while conducting a Unified Focus Assessment (UFA) in February 2007. The site was further characterized under contract though KDHE’s Orphan Site Program to determine the extent of the soil contamination. Radium was documented at concentrations above 6 picoCuries per gram (pCi/g), the action level established for this site.

KDHE is also investigating other properties that may have been used for radium dial repair to determine if contamination exists. Forty-two historical aircraft dial shops have been identified in the Wichita vicinity for environmental assessment. KDHE will work with any responsible parties identified to ensure protection of the public health and the environment.

Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal. It occurs at low levels in virtually all rock, soil, water, plants and animals. The greatest health risk from radium in the environment is its decay product radon, an odorless invisible gas that can collect in buildings.