Kansans in Congress push for faster cleanup at former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
De Soto — Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation are pushing for faster environmental cleanup at a former ammunition plant in the northeastern part of the state.
The Army resumed cleaning up contaminants three years ago at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant after a five-year shutdown. The facility near De Soto produced gunpowder for World War II artillery shells and rocket propellants during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The Army said it’s making progress, but some federal lawmakers from Kansas are concerned about the 2028 target date to complete cleaning up the 5,300 acres, the Kansas City Star reported.
“The Army apparently will be at Sunflower for another decade cleaning up the site,” Republican Sen. Jerry Moran last month. “It’s just such a long haul.”
Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder also pressured the Army to “to expedite their work and complete cleanup at a faster pace.” He said local residents deserve to have access to the land for productive use.
Army officials visited the site this month and know the projected 2028 end date is too far away for many elected leaders, but it’s also important to do the work correctly, said Tom Lederle, chief of the Army’s base realignment and closure division at the Pentagon.
Sunflower received a $109 million Army grant years ago to tackle the explosives decontamination and other contaminants cleanup on the property. That money ran out in 2010, leaving the property languished for five years until the Army agreed to resume and self-manage the remaining work in 2015.
Kise Randall is the executive director of Sunflower Redevelopment LLC, which has owned the site since 2005. Randall said she appreciates the pressure from the lawmakers.
“Moran and Yoder have been very attentive,” she said. “This is on their radar. They are trying to make things happen.”