Monday, November 29, 2010

71/150 highway interchange ribbon cutting


Grandview, Kansas City and state officials gathered Monday, November 22 for a ribbon cutting celebration to mark the opening of the 71 Highway single-point urban interchange at 150 Highway. The project began in 2008 and cost $29.6 million to complete. "I want to thank Gail's Harley Davidson, Joe's Carpet, and everyone else for putting up with this for the past two years," said Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser. Grandview Board of Aldermen President Steve Dennis also spoke at the ceremony, saying he was "thrilled that this day has finally come" and he hoped the new interchange will spur more development in Grandview. State Representative Jason Holsman said the interchange will benefit both KC and Grandview. Other officials in attendance included KC Councilmembers John Sharp and Cathy Jolly, Grandview Alderman Joe Runions, and Grandview City Administrator Cory Smith. (Photo by Paul Thompson)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Report: Bannister Fed Complex Had "Lax" Oversight

By Andrea Wood
A report released Monday said that no contaminants have yet been found at the Bannister Federal Complex, however, the Public Buildings Service (PBS) in charge of the site neglected its environmental testing and misled both the public and employees at the site throughout the past decade.
“The Heartland Region Public Buildings Service (PBS) is currently taking substantial steps to protect the occupants of the Complex and testing has revealed no significant health hazards in GSA-controlled space,” said John Walsh, the Regional Inspector General who released the report. “However, we determined that prior to 2010, PBS did not have a strong environmental management program for the Complex.”
The report was completed at the request of Senator Kit Bond and supported by Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver following reports that current and former employees at the Complex may have developed serious illnesses and died as a result of exposure to toxic substances.
“We were asked to determine whether GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS) took appropriate steps to protect the health and safety of the occupants in PBS space at the Complex,” Walsh said.
The report’s conclusion:
PBS did not always take appropriate steps to protect the health and safety of the occupants at the Complex when presented with evidence of potential hazards…
PBS often provided erroneous and/or incomplete information to both the public and our office concerning environmental issues at the Complex. Some of this information was incorrect to the point that it misled requestors as to the environmental work performed at the Complex…
PBS personnel also did not have a clear understanding of environmental responsibilities pertaining to the GSA-controlled portion of the Complex and did not adequately document or maintain files related to health and safety conditions at the Complex. Finally, PBS may not have complied with the annual reporting requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA)…
Prior to 2010, PBS addressed specific issues when raised by tenants but did not have a strong environmental management program for the Complex. Given the known contamination at the Complex and given the requirement to protect the health and safety of building occupants, we believe PBS should have been more vigilant in overseeing environmental issues at the Complex. Further, we are troubled by the lack of knowledge on the part of PBS officials about safety and environmental conditions at the Complex…
As a result, GSA cannot provide assurance that the Complex has historically been a safe and healthy workplace. Further, PBS’s actions, along with the dissemination of incorrect information, have damaged GSA’s credibility with both building occupants and the general public.
“This report should serve as an immediate wakeup call for the GSA,” said Bond. “The bureaucrats who mishandled information and failed to perform adequate safety tests as documented in the IG’s report should be held accountable. I will continue working to ensure the GSA takes the immediate and long-term steps necessary to provide answers for former workers and ensure the safety of those currently working at the complex.”
Examples were provided in the report of the PBS’ lax oversight.
A letter by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) in January 2005, stated that a report on whether there was trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination at the complex was “biased towards a conclusion of no further action, where instead, it should focus on what data gaps exist and what further work needs to be done, especially since this is an interim report.”
The letter also said that, in regard to the Bannister Complex’s child care facility, “the document should propose a complete vapor intrusion study using acceptable methods as outlined in the EPA guidance.”
PBS never provided MDNR a response and the vapor intrusion system at the child care facility was not installed until February 2010 (5 years after the letter). On October 7, 2005, MDNR offered to provide assistance to PBS regarding environment issues at the Complex. Instead, PBS terminated MDNR’s environmental oversight contract on October 24, 2005.
Another example of PBS’s lax oversight is reflected in its handling of wells installed to monitor groundwater contamination.
In the past, chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment were used at the Complex, including trichloroethylene and polychlorinated biphenyls. Portions of the complex have been used for waste disposal and remediation. Over 200 groundwater wells located throughout the Complex monitor the presence of these contaminants. Prior to 2002, PBS installed two monitoring wells at the Northwest portion of the Complex. It installed an additional monitoring well in the same area during 2002 and six more in 2006. Other than one test in 2004, these wells were not monitored until the Department of Energy (that operates a three million square foot plant at the Complex) began testing the wells in 2008.
In all, the report concludes that PBS has not been diligent in making sure that the site was a healthy place to work for the past decade.
“The people who have worked at Bannister have a right to be angry,” McCaskill said Monday. “This IG report shows serious misjudgment on the part of the federal government, and I’ve spoken with the Public Buildings Commissioner at GSA about it.  The safety of employees should be GSA’s first priority and those responsible for these failures need to be held accountable.”
Officials and the approximately 2,550 employees in the DOE-controlled portion of the Complex are now awaiting an upcoming independent report from the EPA on contamination at the Bannister Federal Complex. So far, no contaminants have been found, but the report Monday pointed out that testing is not complete.
“Our review determined that current testing performed at the Complex has not identified any significant health hazards present in GSA-controlled space. Further, historical ad hoc testing and our review of workers’ compensation claims filed by occupants of the complex do not indicate any sustained exposure to toxic substances by GSA occupants. However, it is important to note that not all of the test results have been finalized and the health hazard evaluation being conducted by NIOSH has not been completed.”
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The Bannister Federal Complex (Complex) consists of 310 acres located on Bannister Road in the southern part of Kansas City, Missouri.
The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) currently contracts with Honeywell to produce non-nuclear mechanical, electronic, and engineered material components for U.S. national defense systems at the site. DOE controls over 30 buildings totaling over three million square feet of space. Currently there are approximately 2,550 employees in the DOE-controlled portion of the Complex.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Veteran's Day Closures


TRASH PICK-UP DELAYED, CITY OFFICES CLOSED NOV. 11 - In observance of Veterans Day on Thursday, Nov. 11, curbside trash and recycling collection will be delayed one day and City of Kansas City, Mo., offices will be closed. The City’s 3-1-1 Action Center will not be open on Nov. 11 but residents will still be able to make online requests. Residents who usually have Thursday collection will receive this service Friday, Nov. 12. Residents who usually have Friday collection will receive this service Saturday, Nov. 13. For more information about solid waste collection services, visit http://www.kcmo.org/trash or call the 3-1-1 Action Center at 311 or 816-513-1313. Media inquiries about trash and recycling should be directed to Dennis Gagnon, public information officer for the Public Works Department, 816-513-2659.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

KCPD South Patrol Groundbreaking

Members of the Kansas City Police Department joined current and former elected officials, architects, engineers and community leaders Oct. 29 for a groundbreaking ceremony at the new South Patrol headquarters near Bannister Mall.
Councilwoman Cathy Jolly (center) was joined by her son Drake, who scooped the first shovelful of dirt to make way for the new police station. Jolly praised the local community for working with police on the new station.
“You made this happen,” she told some four dozen members of the public who attended the groundbreaking.
Chief of Police James Corwin said the new facility was badly needed, as the old one on Hickman Mills Drive has a leaky roof and inadequate facilities for female officers and community meetings. He said the new station was thanks to voters – the $28 million project is being funded by the ¼-cent public safety sales tax voters passed in 2002.
“This is thanks to the generosity and foresight of voters,” he said. “This area was once a campground, a safe haven for pioneers on the Three Trails. It was a safe haven once and it will be a safe haven once again.”
The 25-acre site on which these will be constructed is the former location of the Hart Grove Camp Ground, which was a stop for pioneers who were headed west on the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails.
Patrick McInerney, president of the Board of Police Commissioners, said the station is a good match for South KC.
“This shows the depth of the department’s commitment to this great part of our city, a part some have avoided and others have run from,” he said. “Now, we have roots in this community that will last for generations.”
Councilman John Sharp agreed.
“This is a tremendous site, and it’s a major step in revitalizing the 71/Bannister corridor,” he said. “It’s a great day for Kansas City.”
The project will include the construction of new stations for the South Patrol and Special Operations divisions; a multipurpose building with room for community meetings, office space, a gymnasium, work-out facilities and back-up 911 center; two vehicle storage buildings and a fueling site; and kennels and office space for the Canine Section. The whole project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.