SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A decommissioned wood treatment facility continues to impact the health of neighbors in northwest Springfield more than a decade after shutting down. A meeting took place Wednesday night about the Kerr-McGee facility, which released chemical preservatives that are linked to cancer.
“We are responsible for Owning, investigating, and cleaning up numerous contaminated sites across the United States, including the former Tronox/Kerr-Mgee facility in Springfield, MO,” Multi-State Environmental Trust Project Manager Tasha Lewis said.
Currently, the Multistate trust is digging up yards the agency believes are contaminated with Creosote, a chemical preservative used by Kerr-McGee.
“Those are chemicals such as naphthalene or benzene And those are chemicals that are considered carcinogenic chemicals or chemicals that have the potential right to cause cancer,” Lewis said.
The trust has found naphthalene in the groundwater after collecting samples from numerous wells around the old plant. However, Lewis said the homeowners in that area receive their water from City Utilities. Now the team is looking for contaminated soil.
“There’s a total of seven properties within this area north of High Street and between N Fulbright Ave and Clifton Avenue that we’re focused on,” Lewis said. “We’re really looking at zero to three feet which is called surface soil in Missouri. If those results from those soil samples are above the levels considered protective of human health, we would work closely with those residents to move forward with implementing what we call a removal action, and by that I mean we would go into that property, we would excavate and remove the soils, we would replace those soils with clean fill.”
One of the properties the trust is digging up is June Smith’s, who has lived in her home just feet away from the old wood treatment plant for 43 years.
“Every Friday night they released the creosote and I have a ditch out there in back and it smelled so bad you could not be outside,” Smith said. “It would burn your eyes. It would hurt so bad. You didn’t cook out or go outside then because it was awful.”
Smith attributes her neighbors and loved ones’ health problems to Kerr-McGee.
“Everybody in this neighborhood has died of cancer,” Smith said. “I can take you from house to house. One of my best friends at the top of the hill is now dying of cancer. My husband died, so it’s very much bad stuff.”
Wednesday night’s meeting ran from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For updates on clean-up efforts, neighbors can head to Greenfield Springfield’s website.