Archive for Thursday, September 17, 1992


September 17, 1992


— Kansas University officials today said they need $2.6 million from the state to pay for cleanup at a DeSoto area landfill used by KU for nearly 20 years to dispose of low-level radioactive waste.

The Sunflower Research Landfill doesn't pose a health threat, said James Modig, KU's director of facilities planning. However, the cleaning project will prevent future groundwater contamination from chemicals buried at the dump.

"The landfill was at all times operated in a legal manner in full compliance with state and federal regulations," KU Chancellor Gene Budig said.

Budig said he would ask the Kansas Board of Regents today for approval to seek the $2.6 million from the 1993 Legislature.

The dump is in Johnson County about a mile south of Kansas Highway 10 and adjacent to Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

KU OWNS the 23-acre site, and from 1964 to 1982 utilized about two acres to bury instructional and research laboratory byproducts from KU's Lawrence and Medical Center campuses.

The $2.6 million from the state wouldn't include the state funding necessary to pay the $200,000 out-of-court settlement reached with owners of farmland next to the dump.

The Jean Martin family filed a $500,000 lawsuit in 1990 against the Board of Regents alleging that landfill waste contaminated water on their property. The Martins claimed the value of their land was tarnished by radioactive and carcinogenic waste that leaked from the landfill into their well.

Radioactive waste at the site include solids, such as waste paper, resins and animal carcasses, as well as liquid waste, including organic solvents.

BUDIG SAID KU officials have been working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on the project at the landfill, which operated under license of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

After water samples in 1983 indicated the possibility of some volatile organic contaminants exceeding KDHE regulations, plans were initiated for closing the Sunflower facility. In 1988, KDHE recommended that a study be prepared to evaluate closure options.

B & V Waste Science and Technology Corp. of Overland Park identified seven remediation alternatives to prevent future contamination from the landfill.

Under the KDHE's recommended alternative, taken from the B & V study, the dump would be covered with a membrane and clay to protect the landfill from rainfall and to diminish drainage from the site.

MIGRATION of water from the landfill would be collected by a drain system buried in the ground. The water collected by the drain would be pumped to a holding tank for treatment to remove contaminants.

Surface water would be diverted from the landfill area. An additional collection trench would be constructed. Goundwater and surface water would be regularly monitored.

Last year, KU entered into an agreement with KDHE to establish a framework for closing the site. The Legislature also appropriated $555,000 to design the project. That appropriation didn't include money for construction.

The $2.6 million requested by KU includes money for construction and project administration fees. However, it doesn't include the estimated $77,000 required annually to maintain the cleanup system.

According to the tentative schedule, the 12-month construction project would begin in January 1994.

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