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Environmental Lawsuit between United States and Salinas Headed to Mediation

Thursday, March, 28, 2019

The ongoing lawsuit between the United States federal government and four local governments regarding environmental pollution is headed to mediation. The lawsuit concerns issues occurring at the former Schilling Air Force Base.


The Salina City Commission opted for mediation after ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute regarding soil pollution that was created 50 years ago when the base was still in operation. The agreement to mediate was accepted by the commission in two meetings that lasted under an hour.


The dispute has been ongoing for eight years and began as a result of the toxic chemical that was used to clean planes at the base from 1942 to 1945. The chemical ended up in the soil, so there were traces of it long after the base closed down and the land was given to the four local public utilities.


It was those four utilities, which included the Kansas Board of Regents, USD 305, the Salina Airport Authority, and the city of Salina, that filed the lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the community. Attorney Doug Curran represents the public entities.


According to the federal government, the pollution poses to “immediate threat” to the area’s water supply, but is an issue that does need to be resolved eventually.


In 2012, the four entities and the federal government agreed to a consent decree to conduct a remedial investigation. The study is nearing completion, but there is still dispute over which party should be paying for the study. A meeting is already scheduled to discuss the results of the study and what will need to be done to correct the issues the study uncovers.