Environmental legacy slows Hutch USD land deal

Environmental legacy slows Hutch USD land deal

Source: http://www.gctelegram.com, January 24, 2018
By: Mary Clarkin

Contamination at a former dry cleaner’s location that Hutchinson USD 308 hopes to buy has delayed the purchase.

School officials preface comments with “if” when talking about acquiring the former Dillons supermarket building at 517 E. 30th Ave., which had an attached dry cleaning business, for an early education center.

“There’s no issue with price,” said USD Superintendent Gary Price. The agreed sale price is $450,000, school officials announced in September 2017.

The sticking point is the environmental liability.

“Their contract wanted to give us all the liability,” Price said, referring to negotiations with representatives for The Kroger Co.

The school district does not want to assume liability for the previous contamination. The location is an active site on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Environmental Remediation list.

The ball’s in Kroger’s court, Price said Monday, and the school district is waiting for a response.

Sheila Lowrie, spokeswoman for Dillons Stores, would say only that they are currently in discussions with the school district regarding the sale of the property.

Soil, water

The former dry cleaner was the source of soil and groundwater contamination, according to KDHE communications director Gerald Kratochvil.

The KDHE site narrative states that One Hour Martinizing operated at Northgate Shopping Center from 1967 to 1987. Ineeda Cleaners bought it in 1987, and around 2003, converted it to a drop-off store.

The location was on the KDHE’s radar at least by the mid-1990s, and remediation was carried out for many years.

An expanded environmental assessment was done in 1998 to determine the extent of the tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination. That resulted in the installation of a soil vapor extraction system with one interior and one exterior well, according to the KDHE. An air sparging system later was installed and more wells.

After decommissioning of the remedial system and since 2003, one well near the source has had PCE detections above the limit. Wells farther away consistently have detections below the maximum limit, according to the report.

On the list

A number of sites in Hutchinson and Reno County are on the KDHE’s Bureau of Environmental Remediation list, too. Some sites are active but other sites have been “resolved,” including The News, 300 W. Second Ave.

A 5,000-gallon underground storage tank for ink was installed at The News in 1956 and was abandoned in 1972. It was removed in 1989. There was no indication of leaks from the tank.

Analytical results indicated the presence of PCE at The News and Saylor Dry Cleaners had used PCE as a dry-cleaning solvent. The KDHE determined the PCE did not originate at The News but did not conclusively determine the source.


Contaminated soil still remains at the Northgate property. The problem soil is hard to remove because it is under the building or a paved driveway or parking area.

If the location became an early education center and a 4-year-old ate dirt, he wouldn’t be swallowing the dirt that has drawn the KDHE’s attention.

“No soil contamination was identified at an exposed soil surface because most of the releases were from underground sewer lines,” Kratochvil explained. Building occupants would not be exposed to contaminated soil, and the limited exposed soil at the East 30th property is not contaminated, he said.

“KDHE anticipates the long-term groundwater monitoring will continue in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Delayed monitoring

Current monitoring involves taking and testing groundwater samples from wells and submitting them to a laboratory for semi-annual testing. The KDHE Dry Cleaning Remediation Program pays for all long-term monitoring of the site.

In 2017, the regular monitoring authorized by the state for this site was twice interrupted.

The first delay was caused by the discovery of a high-risk site in Haysville.

“That required diversion of all available fiscal resources to provide water mains for a long-term clean drinking water supply to neighborhoods affected by groundwater contamination from the former American Cleaners,” Kratochvil wrote.

In fall 2017, the KDHE program was able to return to funding monitoring projects. However, laboratory issues caused a second delay.

Last week, the KDHE Health and Environmental Laboratory was able to fix the equipment and the Dry Cleaning Remediation Program is now getting long-term monitoring projects back on the sampling schedule, he said.

The Northgate Dillons store closed in August 2013 when the larger Dillons Marketplace opened in Hutchinson.

The property has been on the real estate market with a listed sale price of $1.5 million.

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