Contaminated Kan. town asks for EPA buyout

With a shining past and a troubled present, just about everyone agrees that Treece, Kan., has no future. A century of mining that built this southeast Kansas town and brought decades of prosperity is long since over, leaving a legacy of heavy-metal-tainted water and soil, surrounded by a lunarlike landscape of gray mine waste.

Even the ground beneath the town can't be trusted; the tiny city was extensively undermined for the metals and the landscape is pocked with cave-ins and uncapped shafts filled with brackish, brownish water that's unfit for human contact.

About 100 survivors hope the federal government will buy them out and settle them elsewhere, as it did with neighboring Picher, Okla. They have a powerful ally in Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who is prepared to file a bill in Congress if the Environmental Protection Agency won't spend stimulus money to buy out Treece.

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