My student, @annnguyen and I learned of a situation where community has been complaining about a gaseous smell coming from what is believed to be leaky underground storage tanks (USDs), that are no longer in use. As an environmental health professional, it is my responsibility to address these exposure concerns. I have also been tasked with identifying Environmental justice problems in my local community. This one seemed appropriate.
When i reached out to a well respected community leader from the same neighborhood to discuss how to problem solve around this situation, i was told to leave it to the feds and to avoid involving community members in this conversation at all. Much of the information has not been made available in the past because of a (now respolved) lawsuit involving the USTs.
So now we are first going through the emails and legal documents I was able to obtain to determine a timeline and figure out what is actually going on. If residents near the USDs will allow us, we will do some interviewing. Once we put the puzzle pieces together from community, state and federal entities, we will report back our findings to those who are interested. Additionally, we may be able to help identify funding for remediation if people want this, and we may be able to provide health education regarding the exposures of concern if people are interested.
We are going to see how it goes, using the SciCAN forum as a way to document the story and see if the SciCAN community can provide some helpful feedback or recommendations along the way.May 4, 2023 at 8:59 pm #4404
On June 26, 2023, I reached out to the Kansas City Public Library about my project. They were able to guide me to the Kansas City Star and Times newspapers through their library database ( https://www.kclibrary.org/research-resources/research-databases/kansas-city-star-historical-and-current-collection). I looked through different archives using various keywords (i.e. Zill, Gas Leak, 31st and Cleveland, Inner City Oil, etc) and was able to find four newspapers related to the UST. I also looked into other news outlets (local TV stations, news articles, podcasts, youtube videos) and was able to find even more information about this case.
I learned about some of the frustration and health concerns of the residents as well as how businesses have been impacted by the gas leak. It is still unclear whether or not the tanks have been removed or if the problem has been fixed but there is currently a redevelopment project happening in the area. This project is called the Resurrection Village Project and it’s led by the Urban Success Development. There was a $300,000 settlement that ZIll agreed to pay and was distributed to 20 people including a church.
I currently do not have any information on what lawsuit resulted in this settlement or on how this money was distributed. My next step after extracting all this information from the news outlet is to find more information about the redevelopment project.
Here are some questions that I still have about the case: What is the current situation in the neighborhood? Is there still a lingering gasoline scent? Did soil and water get remediated before the redevelopment? What is currently the plan and timeline to redevelop the area? How far is the re-development process?July 10, 2023 at 4:28 pm #4442
I found a website that has a timeline of the 2006 gas leak (https://dnr.mo.gov/waste-recycling/investigations-cleanups/regulated-storage-tank-closure/zill-llc-property). It includes links to reports, sampling data from the site, specific dates of events, and MDNR reports that have been made.
I learned that in 2003, Inner City Oil Company owned the site before Zill and removed a UST. It is unclear whether there are any new UST that were installed or if there are other UST underground. Additionally, the tank was not compromised but there were low concentrations of TPH-GRO and TEH detected in one of the samples. In 2006, Zill owned the site and removed 3 old UST. They also added 2 new ones. During the 2006 removal, they found that one of the old UST that was leaking. This resulted in a site investigation as well as an emergency clean-up process that prompted the removal of over 800 tons of soil. Due to poor investigation and clean-up from 2006, there have been continued complaints that have been filed in 2018.
I’m not sure how to read and analyze the soil and water samples to quantify the contamination of the site, but it’s clear that there are dangerous concentrations of benzene and petroleum in them. There has not been any recent data on this site since 2017.
My next steps in this project are to dig deeper into the history of the site to identify previous owners of the site and clarify how many UST was at the site, how many have been removed, and how many are still underground. I hope to find the 2003 and 2006 closure reports for the site to get more information on this.
Additionally, I hope to find more information regarding different lawsuits that have been filed against Zill. Specifically, the one in 2011 that resulted in a $23,000 payout to the state and the case in 2015 where the courts voted in favor of Zill.July 10, 2023 at 6:15 pm #4444
I found a public website where you can search court cases in Missouri (https://www.courts.mo.gov/cnet/nameSearch.do). Using the keyword “Zill”, I was able to find multiple cases related to this UST. Unfortunately, I am limited in what I can see. I have only been able to get the Case No. and some of the final judgments of the cases.
The two cases that I am interested in getting access to are Case No. 1016- CV38833 and Case No.1516-CV16811.
Additionally, I would be interested to learn more about Case No. 05BU-CV00649. From the limited information I got from the case details, this case is related to Zill but I want to see if it’s related to the UST caseJuly 10, 2023 at 6:28 pm #4445
I found a cool GIS website created by the EPA called the UST Finder (https://epa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=b03763d3f2754461adf86f121345d7bc). It’s a map that contains some information on USTs.
When I searched Zill LLC in the search box, it led me to Zill LLC #2 at 5901 Swope Parkway. This is the incorrect address I was looking for. This made me think that Zill probably owned 2 different UST sites.
When I scrolled through the map to 31st and Cleveland, I found the correct Facility ID that matched the file I have been looking at (MOST0008310). Of the 6 UST records related to the site, 4 USTs are closed and removed, 1 is still open (MO40618) and 1 is temporarily out of service (MO40617). There are 2 Release Lust ID also related to the site (MOR008771 and MOR008661). R8771 is related to the 2006 gas leak but I am not sure where R8661 is coming from. This site is still one to this day.
There are ~6 other USTs that are near Zill’s UST in this case. All of which are within a source of water protection area that is the same as the Zill site. 5 out of 6 of the site has a release lust ID around the 1990s and only 2 out of the 6 USTs are open to this day.
My next step in the project is to find out why one of the UST is temporarily out of service on if this UST was the one with the leak in it. I also want to get more information on Release LUST ID: MOR008661. This R number has never been mentioned so far in my previous searches. Additionally, to find more resources, through the public water system database to see if they have any records about a gas leak on SPA Public Water System and Facility ID: MO1010464_84405July 10, 2023 at 7:15 pm #4446
I contacted the MDNR media team via an email I found on their website (https://dnr.mo.gov/waste-recycling/investigations-cleanups/regulated-storage-tank-closure/zill-llc-property). They were able to connect me to the custodian of records, Missouri Attorney General’s Office, the tanks program manager, and the current team that is dealing with the site.
Based on the information they have provided me, this site is still a present issue to this day. The latest complaint that was reported to MDNR was in 2018. The MDNR only knows of two releases from the tank system that have occurred at this site. One in 2012 and another in 2014. Right now, the MDNR is coordinating a joint effort with the EPA to conduct additional work at the site. This work included an investigation to identify contamination sources and efforts to continue site characterization with the addition of monitoring wells and additional soil borings to delineate soil and groundwater impacts. This work began in December 2019 with the most recent groundwater sampling event in September 2021. Based on the new work that was performed, the MDNR has issued a letter to Zill, LLC identifying them as the source and requiring them to continue delineating soil and groundwater impacts, as well as performing additional free product recovery.
My next step is to schedule a meeting with the UST team to learn more about the site and hopefully get access to more recent records and documents. Also, I will be reaching out to the EPA to see if they know anything about the redevelopment project that is happening at the siteJuly 11, 2023 at 7:57 pm #4448
I found more GIS data (https://apps5.mo.gov/ESTARTMAP/map/init_map.action#). This map gives me a little bit more information on properties that are in the re- development process and the status of different USTs in the area. I am still having trouble contacting Urban Success Inc. and the people involved in the Resurrection Village Project to learn about their redevelopment plans. I have contacted a representative from the EPA to learn more about their involvement in the redevelopment process. I am hoping to schedule a meeting with them to go over what I have gathered so far and get additional information on the current status of the siteJuly 24, 2023 at 5:36 pm #4449
I found another GIS tool that has very limited information on codes and permits that are registered under the UST site (https://maps.kcmo.org/apps/parcelviewer/). There was some inforamtion about the fees and inspection that were completed by both the convenience store and gas station. I also found some information related to the excavation and environmental sampling that was done on the site.July 24, 2023 at 6:17 pm #4450
Today, I attended a meeting with multiple representatives from the Missouri DNR on the USTs on 31st and Cleveland. They presented the timeline/ history of the site, odor complaints that have been documented, site characterization results, remaing issues at the site, and the current/ future direction of the MDNR. The MDNR is in the process of compiling all the data/ reports they have on the site and will be sending them over to me within the next few weeks. There is a lot of information to unpack from the meeting. I will go into further detail in my next post.
To summarize, the leaking UST is still being addressed. Unfortunately, due to the court’s ruling in favor of Zill in the 2015 lawsuit, the MDNR is put in a sticky position both financially and legally. The MDNR is working on an additional investigation to provide stronger evidence to prove that Zill is the source of contamination and to understand the extent to which this has affected the community.
I have been able to get in contact with the EPA and people from the Brownfield Program. I will schedule a meeting with them soon. Before then, I will be revising all the records I have documented. My main priority right now is to get more information about the redevelopment project. So far, we know that the people in charge got funding to build infrastructure at the site but no one knows what they have done with the money. I have sent follow-up emails to both the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and Urban Success Inc. but still have no response. If anyone has any leads to this that would be amazing! Other than that, I think we got a solid timeline for the site. Till then, stay tuned for the next update!July 31, 2023 at 6:12 pm #4451
I informally filed a sunshine law request to get more information on the UST site. I found a general communications email that was located on the Zill Property website. They forwarded my email to various people within the DNR including the custodian of records. Based on my email, the custodian of records decided to turn my email into a sunshine law request. As a result of this request, I was able to meet with people from the DNR. After a few nudges and reminders, I have finally been able to retrieve 51 documents about the site.
My next steps are to go over these documents, compare them to what I already have, and add new information on the DNR’s recent investigation. As of now, we have information from the site that dates back from 2003 to 2023!August 30, 2023 at 12:03 am #4562
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