Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant

Public Notice for Statements of Basis AOC 01 and SWMUs 53, 54, 55, 56, 60, and 63--Revised 3/16/2022 

The KDHE Bureau of Environmental Remediation (BER) is soliciting public comments regarding remediation at seven sites in the northeast part of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (SFAAP) near De Soto, Kansas. Sites of interest are: Area of Concern 01 – Monitoring Well West of Old Administrative Area, and Solid Waste Management Units (SWMU) SWMU 53 – Burn and Debris Area; SWMU 54 – Fluorescent Tube Well No. 3, SWMU 55 – Old Administration Buildings, SWMU 56 – Monitoring Well South of Facility 211, SWMU 60 – Old Photographic Laboratory, and SWMU 63 – Water Towers. Six of the sites have already completed the remedies due to past US Army cleanup progress. SWMU 55 building demolition and contaminated soil excavation remains to be completed. The Statements of Basis (SB) present KDHE’s preferred alternatives for the sites; however, KDHE may modify the alternative or select another response action based on new information or public comments.

KDHE will review and consider all information submitted during a 30-day public comment period of March 11 through April 11, 2022. Upon successful completion of all remedies, KDHE will prepare a Final Agency Decision for closure and No Further Corrective Action Planned (NFCAP) Determination letter by documenting completed contaminant cleanup or assessment data indicating no cleanup is warranted.

The SB documents and other information on the cleanup for the Sites are available for public review at the KDHE office in Topeka by contacting Margaret Townsend, at 785-296-8801. Also, the Administrative Record for the sites is available during the comment period through the links at the bottom of this page.

KDHE will accept written comments on the SFAAP SBs for AOC 01 and SWMUs 53, 54, 55, 56, 60, and 63 from March 11 through April 11, 2022. A public meeting is not scheduled at this time but may be held virtually or in person if the public requests one in writing with a statement of issues to be discussed.

Public comments on the SBs may be submitted to KDHE in writing during the 30-day comment period at the address listed below, or by electronic mail (email) to Margaret Townsend. Comments sent by mail must be postmarked by April 11, 2022 and emails also must be received by 5:00 p.m. on April 11, 2022. All comments that are received by KDHE prior to the end of the public comment period will be addressed by KDHE in the Responsiveness Summary Section of the Final Decision Document. 

Kansas Department of Health and Environment 
Bureau of Environmental Remediation 
Federal Facilities Unit
1000 SW Jackson Street, Suite 410 
Topeka, KS 66612

Site Background

The former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (SFAAP) is located near DeSoto, Kansas, in the northwest corner of Johnson County. It is approximately 30 miles southwest of Kansas City, Kansas, and 16 miles east of Lawrence, Kansas. SFAAP includes approximately 9,065 acres and is primarily surrounded by agricultural land. It is bounded on the east by Spoon and Kill Creeks and on the west by Captain Creek (Figure 1). The plant consisted of production facilities, administrative and storage facilities, powerhouses, landfills, lagoons, ditches, burning grounds, sumps, projectile ranges, and waste treatment facilities. Most of the assets of the plant are no longer in active use.

The Army commissioned SFAAP in March 1942 to produce smokeless powder and other propellants. The propellants produced consisted of the base explosives: nitrocellulose (NC), nitroglycerine (NG), and nitroguanidine (NQ). The facility also produced certain other chemicals necessary to produce the explosives (e.g., nitric and sulfuric acids). NC and NG powder production began in March 1943. NC and NG production was carried out at various times between the 1940s and early 1970s. Only nitric acid, sulfuric acid, oleum (concentrated sulfuric acid), and NQ were manufactured between 1971 and 1992, with most of the installation in inactive status. The plant was declared excess in 1998 by the U.S. Army and the property was made available for sale. The property was formally sold to Sunflower Redevelopment, Inc. in 2005.

In August 1980, SFAAP submitted a notification of hazardous waste activity to obtain interim status for the treatment and storage of hazardous wastes. In December 1991, KDHE and the EPA jointly issued SFAAP an RCRA hazardous waste management permit, Parts I and II. Part I, administered by KDHE, authorizes the storage of hazardous wastes. Part II, administered by the EPA Region 7, required the investigation of releases from 49 Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs). After Part II was issued in 1991, additional SWMUs and Areas of Concern (AOCs) were identified. An AOC is an area where hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents have been identified but are not linked to a specific solid waste management practice. There are currently 70 SWMUs and 25 AOCs at the former SFAAP. The Army completed several site-specific studies investigating the potential for releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents at SFAAP (Law, 1996, USACHPPM, 1998).

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact:

Margaret Townsend 785-296-8801, KDHE-BER Project Manager