SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A public meeting was held Wednesday to update a neighborhood in north Springfield about cleanup efforts surrounding the old Kerr-McGee Wood Treatment Plant.
The facility previously treated railroad ties but the process and disposal of the treatment contaminated the soil and groundwater.
“I was really concerned because my family has lived in this, in this house for 30 year and we still live there. You know, my father still lives there and he’s retired and he gardens,” said Michelle Huett, who grew up near the facility. “And I’m just really worried about the ramifications of the cancer-causing agents that, you know, we’ve been exposed to over the years.”
The creosote-related contaminants are carcinogenic, but the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust is working to clean up the area.
“It has the potential to cause cancer,” said Tasha Lewis, the program director for the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust. “And, you know, we’ve been working in this community for a number of years and have spoke to many of the residents. And a lot of the residents voiced their concerns about their health and that their health has been affected because of the proximity they they live to the facility.”
“I remember playing outside and smelling the fumes and it burning my eyes and my nose,” Huett said. “And my parents would be like, ‘No, you need to stay inside today. We need to wait until this, this is out of the air.'”
The public meeting on August 23 was full of concerned community members hoping to be updated on the cleanup efforts.
At a meeting in February, the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust said they would be taking soil samples from eight specific properties.
“So we have sampled five of those eight properties and we’ve received those results,” Lewis said. “And good news is, is that those results, we’ve evaluated those and the concentrations are below the established EPA’s state and clean up numbers and levels that are protective of human health. So at this point, based on the data that’s been collected today, we will not need to go in and remove the soil from those yards.”
“They’ve done a really good job about letting us know what they found and the mitigation techniques that they’ve begun to do,” Huett said. “But the harm at this point has already been done. You know, this has been going on for a very long time.”
The Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust said they hope to continue having at least one meeting a year to update the public on cleanup efforts.