EPA to assess pollution in Kansas mining town

Three top officials of the Environmental Protection Agency are being dispatched to Treece next week to assess whether the federal government should buy out residents and depopulate the mine-waste- contaminated community, Kansas members of Congress announced Thursday.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts had issued several invitations to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to visit Treece, which she has said she will do at some point.

On Thursday, Roberts said in a statement, "I am pleased administrator Jackson is sending key decision makers to observe for themselves the unique and dangerous conditions residents of Treece face on a daily basis."

The EPA officials who will tour the Treece area Thursday are Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response; Bob Sussman, senior policy counsel to the administrator; and William Rice, acting administrator for the Kansas City-based EPA Region 7.

About 100 residents still live in Treece, a once-thriving mining town surrounded by piles of lead- and zinc-contaminated waste known as chat.

The town is dotted with sinkholes from abandoned mine shafts filled with polluted water and threatened by the possibility of cave-ins of abandoned and flooded tunnels.

Roberts and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, have been pressing the EPA to spend about $3 million to $3.5 million from federal stimulus aid to buy out Treece.

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