Salina A long-running dispute over cleaning up pollution at a former Air Force base in southwest Salina may soon be headed to federal court.
Four public entities in Salina will file a federal lawsuit to get the U.S. Department of Defense to pay for remediation of soil and groundwater pollution at the former Schilling Air Force Base, Tim Rogers, Salina Airport Authority executive director, said Thursday.
The Department of Justice is in settlement talks with the city of Salina, Salina Airport Authority, Salina School District and Kansas State University at Salina about the pollution.
But Rogers said the Salina groups believe going to court is the fastest way to reach a settlement so that cleanup can begin.
Salina was given the site after the base closed in the 1960s, but the plaintiffs want the federal government to pay for the cleanup.
Tens of thousands of gallons of trichloroethylene — a compound known as TCE that was once widely used as an industrial solvent — were sent into ditches around the air base for more than 20 years.
Samples from more than 150 monitoring wells in and around Salina Municipal Airport and the adjacent Airport Industrial Center show the plume is moving slowly toward Salina’s water wells.
The latest estimate is that the contamination is between seven and 77 years away from reaching the wells, said Dennis Kuhlman, dean of Kansas State at Salina.