On Sept. 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its decision to place the Cherokee Zinc-Weir Smelter Superfund Site (site), located in Weir, Cherokee County, Kansas, on the federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only releases at sites included on the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup as authorized by Congress under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund law. The Proposed Rule was published in the Federal Register (85 FR 54970) on Sept. 3, 2020. The proposed listing is subject to a 60-day public review and comment period; comment due date is Nov. 2, 2020. The Electronic Docket Identification Number is EPA–HQ–OLEM–2020–0394 at www.regulations.gov. Additional information about EPA’s Superfund program and the NPL proposal are available online at: www.epa.gov/superfund. The site will be added to the NPL if it continues to meet the listing requirements after the public comment period closes and the Agency has responded to any comments received.
The Chicago Zinc Works began smelting zinc in 1873 and chose Weir as its location, due to nearby commercial coal deposits available to fuel the smelter and to the proximity to the Tri-State lead and zinc mining district. According to historical information, smelting operations closed in approximately 1918 when natural gas wells in other areas of Kansas made smelter operations using coal less profitable. Legacy contamination from this smelter has contaminated multiple residential yards. Lead is the primary contaminant of concern.
Community members are key partners at Superfund sites and their early involvement leads to better cleanup decisions, including those about a site’s future use. Affected communities are also eligible for technical assistance resources to help understand technical documents and promote community involvement. EPA's Technical Assistance Grant program provides up to $50,000 for a qualified citizens’ group to hire independent technical advisors. Advisors can help citizens interpret technical data, understand site hazards, and become more knowledgeable about the different technologies used to clean up sites. Contact EPA for information about the technical assistance resources and visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-technical-assistance-communities.
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:
U.S. EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, KS 66201