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EPA in Kansas

Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site, Caney, Montgomery County, Kansas - Fact Sheet, December 2018

EPA Removal Action


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have completed the cleanup of 309 lead-contaminated residential yards in Caney, Kansas. EPA, in coordination with KDHE, conducted the cleanup from November 2016 to September 2018.


Lead contamination of residential yards at the site is the result of local smelting operations that date back to about a century ago. In the early 1900s, the discovery of natural gas in the area spurred the development of zinc and lead smelting in Caney and elsewhere in southeast Kansas, with the smelters using natural gas as fuel. Over time, airborne lead particles from smelters and related operations settled onto area properties. The use of waste from the smelters as driveway paving, construction backfill, and landscaping material also likely contributed to residential contamination.

Single-family residential property transactions could be affected by recognized environmental conditions or potential environmental impairment on the property for owners who refused cleanup. The impairment may affect the use or value of the property and/or the ability of the purchaser to obtain financing to buy the property if it is not properly addressed.


EPA and KDHE sampled 975 properties in Caney. Of the 975 properties sampled, 318 qualified for cleanup, with EPA and KDHE cleaning up lead-contaminated residential yards at 309 properties. Nine properties either declined cleanup or were inaccessible because the owner could not be located or contacted.

Although the federal government does have the authority to compel access for sampling or cleanup of contamination on private property, EPA did not order private residential property owners to participate in the sampling/cleanup program. However, please be aware that property owners who refused sampling or cleanup may not have the opportunity for EPA to return to Caney to address individual yards.

Approximately 85 “parcels” in Caney were not sampled because the property owner declined/denied EPA’s request for access to collect samples, or the property owner could not be located or was unresponsive to EPA’s requests for access. Community members who would like to have their yard tested and/or remediated may contact the On-Scene Coordinator (listed below) before Dec. 31, 2018, for consideration.


Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults and can develop lifelong disabilities and behavior problems from lead exposure.

Children 7 years old and younger are most at risk from developing health effects from exposure to lead. Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

It is important that children in this age range be tested annually, because lead-poisoned children do not always look or act sick. It is important to know that exposure to even low levels of lead can severely harm children.

Lead is classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and is a cumulative toxicant. Lead exposure can pose serious health risks, particularly for young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

The early effects of lead poisoning are nonspecific and difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of minor seasonal illnesses.


The only way to know if your child has elevated blood-lead levels is to have his or her blood tested. EPA encourages parents to have their children tested for lead exposure. Talk to your pediatrician, general physician, or local health department about what you can do and about testing your child. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check you or your child for lead exposure.


Additional information regarding the Caney Residential Yards Superfund Site, including the Administrative Record, is available on EPA’s website.

For information about lead, visit:


For questions or site information, please contact:
Michael Davis
On-Scene Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7328
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425

Pamela Houston 
Community Engagement Specialist
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
Phone: 913-551-7699
Toll-free: 1-800-223-0425