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Fact Sheet

June 2009

EPA Removal Site Evaluation to Begin, Karnish Instruments, Inc., Wichita, Kansas


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 will begin a Removal Site Evaluation (RSE) at the Karnish Instruments, Inc. site at 4711 E. 31st Street South in Wichita, Kansas. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) conducted a Unified Focused Assessment (UFA) at the site and requested EPA to perform the RSE.


EPA will collect soil samples for lab analysis, survey the property, screen the entire property, screen the buildings on site, and review the lab data to determine if any removal actions are warranted.

The RSE is to begin mid-June 2009. Sampling will be conducted on soil at the site to determine if the site poses a threat to human health and the environment, and to propose recommendations for further action, if necessary. Sampling will last about a week.


Radioluminescent paint and radium luminous compounds have been used extensively on watch and clock faces since the early 1900s. The wide use of radium in luminescent paints continued through World War II because the soft glow of radium-produced luminescence made aircraft dials, gauges, and other instruments visible to operators at night.

The Karnish Instruments, Inc. site was located at the above address in Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas. The site was the location of an aircraft instrument repair shop in the 1965 through 1969. Instruments included some radium dials and faces.


Radium dial repair shops were set up in the Wichita area soon after World War II to upgrade and repair radium-bearing aircraft instruments. During this repair process, the dials containing radium-bearing paint were removed, the radium bearing paint stripped from the dials with solvent, and the dials repainted. These teardown and dial-stripping operations are potential sources for solvents, heavy metal, and radium contamination of buildings, soil, and ground water.

Karnish Instruments, Inc. used this facility to strip radioluminescent paint containing radium-226 from aircraft instruments. Subsequent occupants also operated an aircraft instrument repair facility at the same location.


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

Beckie Himes
Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
Phone: 913-551-7253 or Toll Free: 1-800-223-0425


James Johnson
On Scene Coordinator
Superfund Division
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, KS  66101
Phone:  913-551-7058

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