Site Restoration Unit
Maura O'Halloran, P. G., Unit Manager
Phone: (785) 296-0268 Fax: (785)-296-7030 or (785)-296-1686
1000 SW Jackson, Suite 410
Topeka, KS 66612-1367
At KDHE, our mission is to protect and improve the health and environment of all Kansans. The Site Restoration Unit strives to restore the State's natural resources including soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment, and to ensure safe drinking water supplies for private water well owners and public water supplies threatened by releases of chemicals into the environment. The Site Restoration Unit accomplishes this through various programs, such as the Presumptive Land Remedy Program, Bankruptcy Program, RCRA Corrective Action Sites, and other sites administered under the State Cooperative Program.
State Cooperative Program
The Site Restoration Unit and the Site Remediation Unit are responsible for administrating the State Cooperative Program, which was established within the Remedial Section in 1991 to address complex, higher priority contaminated sites in the State that are not in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Program. The State Cooperative Program provides the legal means by which KDHE works cooperatively with industry, municipalities, private citizens and other parties potentially responsible for environmental contamination that threatens public health and the environment. Participation within the program protects potentially responsible parties from potential Superfund listing and involvement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
KDHE works with the potentially responsible party through legal consent orders or remediation agreements to reduce the threat to human health and the environment. Through this cooperative relationship, KDHE provides regulatory oversight of environmental investigations, risk assessments, interim measure implementation, evaluation of remedial alternatives, and subsequent design and implementation of remedial actions conducted by potentially responsible parties at contaminated sites across the State. This function is critical to ensure the safety and welfare of people in Kansas and to protect or remediate critical natural resources of the State, including surface water bodies and groundwater aquifers which serve as drinking water supplies.
The State Cooperative Program is intended to complement the Voluntary Cleanup and Property Redevelopment Program (VCPRP), providing oversight for contaminated sites precluded from participation in the VCPRP by statute due to the presence of an imminent threat to human health or the environment. For more information about the State Cooperative Program and the process involved, see the guidance document published by KDHE in July 2011, State Cooperative Program: Protecting Human Health on a Path to Restoration and Revitalization (pdf).
Presumptive Land Remedy Sites
The Presumptive Land Remedy Sites Program was initiated in order to apply previous experiences at contaminated sites to newly-identified sites that share similar characteristics. Sites that qualify for presumptive remedies will typically share a operational history, involve identical contaminants of concern, and respond to equivalent remedial strategies. By streamlining the investigation process and incorporating the preferred remedial technology for the specific classification of sites, cleanups can be cost-effectively implemented at a more rapid pace.
The presumptive remedy approach is particularly useful when the KDHE launches an initiative to investigate former sites from a particular industrial sector, such as zinc smelters, former petroleum refineries, or manufactured gas plants. Applying the Bureau's previous experience from similar sites allows the appropriate corrective action to take place in an efficient and cost-effective manner while meeting remedial action objectives implemented for the protection of human health and the environment.
Bankruptcies and Settlements
The Site Restoration Unit's efforts to restore the State's natural resources at sites with bankrupt responsible parties focus on collaborating with strategic project stakeholders to reduce or eliminate environmental threats while also seeking to lessen impediments to redevelopment of contaminated properties. When a responsible party enters bankruptcy, BER must move quickly to take the appropriate actions necessary within the time frame specified by the bankruptcy process to acquire adequate funding to initiate/continue investigation and remediation. Future costs for necessary investigation and remediation are projected using the Remedial Action Cost Engineering and Requirements (RACER) system, a cost-estimating software system developed specifically under the direction of the U.S. Air Force.
Through the State Cooperative Program, the Restoration Unit works hand in hand with stakeholders coordinating investigation and cleanup activities with the funding. These critical partnerships help to streamline cleanup and redevelopment activities ultimately resulting in job creation, economic growth and environmental restoration. Here are some examples of some sites within the bankruptcy program:
- General Motors: KDHE works with the RACER Trust, an entity created by U.S. Bankruptcy Court to address environmental contamination at properties formerly owned by General Motors Corporation, to address contamination at a former auto assembly plant in Kansas City's Fairfax Industrial Park. Recently RACER Trust announced they reached a purchase agreement with NorthPoint Development to facilitate reutilization of the 80-acre property. Actions are underway as KDHE, RACER Trust, and NorthPoint collectively parallel redevelopment with clean-up in order to promote redevelopment and job creation while protecting human health and the environment. NorthPoint projects that the new Central Industrial Park will create over 2,000 new jobs and over $40 million in capital investment.
- Farmland Industries: The Farmland Industries Nitrogen Plant in Lawrence, a producer of nitrogen-based fertilizer products from 1953 to 2001, filed for bankruptcy in 2002. KDHE provided oversight for investigation and interim remedial measures with funding from the bankruptcy Trust, and then partnered with the City of Lawrence to parallel redevelopment initiatives with remediation on this 467-acre site. As a result of these collaborative efforts, contaminated property with crumbling infrastructure is being transformed into a sustainable commercial redevelopment that incorporates renewable energy generation and creates jobs while expanding the tax base. These cooperative efforts are evidence of success in achieving KDHE's mission to protect and improve the health and environment of all Kansans.
- Frankfort PWS #4 Site: Through a final settlement with the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the City of Frankfort and KDHE have worked cooperatively to achieve success in remediating groundwater that feeds the City's drinking water supply. Public Water Supply Well No. 4 was once the City of Frankfort's most productive public water supply well until carbon tetrachloride, a grain fumigant banned from use in the 1980s, was detected in the water in 1986. Investigations conducted by KDHE identified a former Commodity Credit Corporation/United States Department of Agriculture (CCC/USDA) grain storage facility, which operated during the 1950s and 1960s, as the potentially responsible party for the carbon tetrachloride and chloroform contamination in soil and groundwater. A cascade aeration system and a pump-and-treat groundwater remediation system are currently operating with success.
RCRA Corrective Action Sites
Areas of a concern at a facility where solid or hazardous waste was placed either deliberately or by accidental release/spill enter the corrective action process under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). KDHE and EPA Region VII entered into a Superfund Memorandum of Agreement that defines the roles and responsibilities of each agency with respect to cleanup of contaminated sites to ensure successful implementation of efforts in a complimentary and non-duplicative manner. The Site Restoration Unit works in close coordination with the KDHE Bureau of Waste Management and EPA Region VII to oversee cleanup activities.