DuPont Co. will pay about $250,000 toward cleaning up groundwater and soil pollution in an area of southeast Kansas where cleanup efforts began more than three decades ago, according to a proposed federal consent decree.


     DuPont Co. will pay about $250,000 toward cleaning up groundwater and soil pollution in an area of southeast Kansas where cleanup efforts began more than three decades ago, according to a proposed federal consent decree.
     In a federal complaint filed this month, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the U.S. Department of the Interior accused the Wilmington, Del.-based chemical giant of violating the Clean Water Act with mining pollution in Cherokee County. A 115-mile swath of Cherokee County has been a federal Superfund pollution cleanup site since the 1980s and was divided into sub-sections. DuPont operated a mine in one of the sub-sections, called the Waco sub-site, according to the complaint.
     The Cherokee County site includes contamination from mine waste in several former mining locations and is part of an area that was once among the world's highest lead and zinc producers.
     The complaint said the 560-acre Waco section about 11 miles south of Pittsburg continues to discharge hazardous substances, including lead, cadmium and zinc, polluting the area's soil and groundwater.
     "Natural resources at the Waco Subsite have been injured or destroyed or lost as a result of the discharges of hazardous substances from the Defendant's Properties," the complaint said. It said the pollution has affected everything from surface water to migratory birds, fish and other resources.
     DuPont mined in the area starting in about 1920 until the 1970s, DuPont spokesman Roberto Nelson said. He said DuPont also paid $250,000 for earlier remediation costs.
     If approved, the proposed consent decree would require DuPont to pay $252,739 for cleanup and damages. The consent decree, submitted on April 19, is subject to a 30-day comment period before approval. If the consent decree is approved, it will be the chemical company's last payment for remediation in the area, Nelson said.
     "This proposed agreement underscores DuPont's continuing commitment to work in cooperation with the public sector to resolve environmental responsibilities related to former operations at the Waco subsite," Nelson said in an email.
     The Kansas Department of Health and Environment approved of the proposed consent decree, a spokesman said.
     "We believe the settlement is fair and are happy to have resolved this issue," KDHE spokesman Jonathan Larance said in an email.