Law Street Media

Kansas Airport, School, and City Ask U.S. to Fund Cleanup at Former Air Force Base

Scientist sampling creek's polluted water

On Thursday, the city of Salina, Kansas, Salina Airport Authority, a school district, and Kansas State University (KSU) filed a complaint in the District of Kansas against the United States of America, alleging that hazardous chemicals, which were left at a former Schilling Air Force Base site, are causing monetary issues for the plaintiffs. They asked for the court to require the United States to pay response costs, citing the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). 

Salina has a population of nearly 50. The complaint says the city is a “retail, agricultural, manufacturing and cultural center” for North Central Kansas. Salina Airport Authority consists of a regional airport, which is also the location of over 100 additional businesses. Each plaintiff, including KSU and USD305, a public school district, claimed that they are bearing the costs to clean up chemicals when it should be paid for by the United States. 

The former air base site is reportedly contaminated with tricholoroethylene, perchloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This reportedly causes costs for the plaintiffs to ensure the hazardous chemicals do not enter their land or facilities and cause negative effects for their students and customers. Reportedly, there have been releases of the chemicals from the site leading to concerns and action from the plaintiffs. 

The complaint said the plaintiffs “have incurred and will continue to incur ‘response costs’ relating to the Site … in responding to releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances from property that was owned and/or operated by Defendants at the Site at the time of the release or threatened release.” 

The plaintiffs previously filed a legal action, which led to a judge approving a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study, which the plaintiffs performed. That led to mediation and the execution of a Consent Decree for the steps to fix the site. This action asks for monetary relief from the government, to help the plaintiffs fulfill the remedy for the site, which the parties agreed on in the other case; the plaintiffs have begun remedial steps at the site. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Stinson LLP

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