In the past, open burning of contaminated buildings at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant has released asbestos, lead and other toxins to the surrounding environment -- settling on lawns and homes more than three miles away. The Army is clearly responsible for this and any harm it may have caused.
If the proposed open burning of more than 100 buildings is ultimately approved by Johnson County, however, the lines of liability will become blurred. Additional burns will spew these same contaminants to the air and onto the land and nearby waterways. There will be no way to discern between what came from the Army and what will be released by new burns.
Fortunately, there is no timeline binding local decision-makers -- contaminated buildings have been there for decades -- and there are a number of viable alternatives that can get the job done and prevent the uncontrolled release of pollution to the environment. Non-thermal approaches can and have been successfully used at bases across the country and, moreover, will protect local communities from potential liabilities that should stay with the military.
More information is available on our website at www.cswab.org/sunfloweropenburn.html.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger