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City to get update on Plating Inc. contamination
This is the EPA Superfund site near the GB airport
plating inc pic
Shown is the site of the former Plating Inc. in the Great Bend Industrial Park.

Plating Inc. timeline:

• The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 1988 the Kansas Department of Health and Environment detected soil contamination from blowers and documented that the facility had been operating without air pollution control systems. The KDHE ordered the facility to address state and federal violations for the handling and storage of hazardous wastes and remove the contaminated soil.

• In 1991 sampling revealed that the groundwater was contaminated with chromium.

• In 1994 KDHE and Plating Inc. signed an order which lead to the facility installing a shallow remedial well to contain and remediate the shallow plume.

• In 1998, Plating Inc. installed a shallow remedial well to control and remediate a contaminated groundwater plume (an underground mass of contaminated water). After determining the remedial well was not fully containing the plume, the company installed an additional remedial well in 2002. 

• In 2005, the facility ceased operations and in 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. A Time Critical Removal Action was conducted by the EPA to remove the hazardous waste the was left behind. 

The KDHE worked with the EPA and its contractor to develop the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study field sampling plan, which was implemented in February 2010.

• The KDHE conducted a walkthrough of the facility on March 8, 2006, and an inspection on Jan. 5, 2007. Based upon the findings of the inspection, the facility was closed. 

Approximately 6,400 gallons of chromic acid were noted on site, along with other acids and hydroxides. The concrete in the secondary containment was pitted and inadequate. 

Chromic acid was leaking onto an outside concrete pad, which, in turn was seeping to the soils. A groundwater plume of hexavalent chromium, approximately two miles long, has impacted domestic wells and is moving toward Great Bend public water supply wells. 

The site consists of Plating Inc. and the groundwater plume. It also includes two abandoned settling basins which received waste water from the facility and other nearby industries about one mile south. 

The Site was placed on the National Priorities List in March 2008.

• Two additional phases of Supplemental Field Investigations were completed in 2013 to characterize the soil and groundwater contamination plume. Additional sampling (monitoring wells, and public and private well) was completed in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

• A Feasibility Study was completed in 2019 and a Record of Decision was completed in September 2020. A Remedial Design was finalized in December 2022.

• Domestic water supply wells for two businesses have been impacted by the contamination and bottled water is being supplied to these businesses. 

• A remedial action to remove the building and the hazardous soil beneath the building is planned to begin operations this fall.

• The Remedial Design for the excavation and removal of the contaminated source area has been completed. The next steps will be to find a contractor to complete the remedial action. 

EPA anticipates this work will begin this year. 

When the Great Bend City Council meets on Oct. 2, it will hear a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 on the Superfund remediation efforts at the former Plating Inc. in Great Bend’s Industrial Park west of town, a issue which dates back 35 years.  

“At our next Council meeting on Oct. 7. Clint Sperry (site remedial project manager) with the EPA will be here,” City Administrator Brandon Anderson said, addressing the council Monday night. “EPA always perks everyone’s ears up when they want to come and visit with us, but we’re wanting to do that from a proactive standpoint.”

The visit is in regard to the ongoing EPA cleanup, or remediation, project near the Great Bend Municipal Airport involving the former Plating Inc. location.

With roots in 1988, this is a former chromium and zinc plating facility at 8801 W. 8801 West Sixth St.  Chemicals, including hexavalent chromium, from the now-defunct business have contaminated the surrounding groundwater and are the subject of an ongoing cleanup effort (see timeline).

Working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, an EPA-approved cleanup plan is expected to be implemented this year, the EPA reported.

“They’re going to come in and talk to us about that and talk to us about the safeness and the precautions that they’re taking to make sure that’s a safe project,” Anderson said. He thought this was important for the council to hear, but more important to reassure the public.

Jolene Biggs, Ward 2 councilwoman, asked about the impetus for the meeting. She wondered if the contamination plume had moved or migrated, making it more of a concern.

“No, I don’t believe I don’t believe it’s any worse, Anderson said. “They’ve got it pinpointed what needs to be hauled off.”

This will amount to a pretty substantial amount of dirt that has to be removed near the airport entrance, about 16 feet, Public Works Director Jason Cauley said, noting the contaminated soil will be left on site and stabilized before being hauled away.

And, the EPA will continue to monitor the area after the work is done.

The EPA and the city will release more information as the project progresses.