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Salina cleanup settlement delayed until August

Published on -5/29/2012, 6:33 AM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A long-sought financial settlement that would allow Salina to take over the cleanup of pollution at a former Air Force base has been delayed.

Salina, which acquired the former Schilling Air Force Base when it closed in 1965, filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas City, Kan., in 2010 to recoup the cost of cleaning up pollution left over from when the base was in operation. The cleanup had previously been the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Much of the pollution consists of trichloroethylene, or TCE, which was used as an industrial solvent and was classified last year as a human carcinogen. The plaintiffs contend that the federal government should pay for the cleanup because the chemicals came from the Air Force operation at the site. In their lawsuit, Salina officials said the TCE and other compounds have "migrated into the soils" under residential areas near the site.

In March, the two sides said in a joint status report they had agreed in principle to a settlement and signed nonbinding proposed settlement papers. Terms of the settlement and costs of the proposed cleanup were not released.

City officials have said they expected to work with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency during a cleanup at the 3,000-acre site, he said.

Court documents show that the parties asked the judge last month to extend the deadline to dismiss the case until Aug. 27. The sides said they need more time to negotiate the "specific terms" of the consent decree that involved the proposed settlement. The parties said the consent decree is a "complicated and lengthy document" that requires coordination with the federal government, the Salina officials as well as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the EPA.

The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, approved the extension.

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