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Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Superfund Site Proposed for National Priorities List

Release Date: 09/14/2012
Contact Information: Belinda Young, (913) 551-7463,

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., Sept. 14, 2012) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Superfund Site for listing on the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is the list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund). The NPL is intended primarily to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation.

The Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Site is located in and around the city of Iola, Allen County, Kan. The main Former United Zinc facility is located on the east side of Iola within a mixture of residential and commercial properties. The site was one of several zinc and lead smelting operations in the area between 1902 and 1925. Residential and non-residential properties were contaminated with elevated levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and zinc, which may be associated with historical lead and zinc smelting.

The state of Kansas referred the site to EPA for Superfund removal action in September 2005. To date, EPA has sampled more than 1,600 of 3,400 properties for contamination. Of the more than 1,600 residential yards sampled, more than 500 had elevated levels of lead above 400 parts per million (ppm). EPA has excavated approximately 130 residential yards with lead levels above 800 ppm and replaced the contaminated soils with clean backfill soils followed by re-establishment of grass residential yards. These actions were conducted under the Superfund Time-Critical Removal Program.

EPA received letters of support for placing the Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Site on the NPL from the governor of Kansas and the mayor of Iola. As stated in a letter from Governor Brownback, “KDHE has indicated understanding that because substantial remedial work remains to be conducted at this site, this work can most effectively be addressed through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.”

Since 1983, 1,676 sites have been listed on the NPL. If the Former United Zinc and Associated Smelters Site is added to the NPL, EPA will be able to address contamination under the remedial or long-term process, which involves more extensive cleanup. EPA also helps affected communities to understand technical information, by offering those sites listed on the NPL an opportunity to receive a Superfund Technical Assistance Grant for up to $50,000 for qualified citizens groups to hire independent technical advisors. The advisors assist to interpret technical data, understand site hazards, and become more knowledgeable about the different technologies used to clean up sites.

EPA is requesting comments until Nov. 15, 2012, on the proposal to add this site to the NPL. Comments submitted for the site should reference docket number EPA-HQ-SFUND-1012-0599.

Online: Input the site docket number and follow online instructions for submitting comments.


Mail: Mail comments (no facsimiles or tapes) to: Docket Coordinator, Headquarters, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CERCLA Docket Office, Mail Code 5305T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460.

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EPA is committed to ensuring that remaining NPL hazardous waste sites are cleaned up to protect human health and the environment. Learn more

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