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Kingman residents return home after soil cleanup


Workers from El Capitan Environmental Services Inc. work on several homes near Tommie Drive and Hearne Avenue Thursday. Here, one El Capitan team member waters down soil as it is removed. He is standing in a portion of the yard that has already been excavated.

Gunnery range contamination remediated in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project

KINGMAN - Residents on Ryan and Hearne avenues are starting to move back into their homes after a month-long stay in a hotel.

The U.S. Army Corps moved five people from their homes in late April so it could remove dirt contaminated by clay pigeons from the former Kingman Army Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range from their properties.

Joyce Stutzman and her husband, Dannie, were two of the five people who were moved from their homes. They returned home this week. The remaining families are expected to return home before May 31, according to Army Corps District Project Manager Fran Firouzi.

Stutzman said she is more than satisfied with the Corps' work.

The Corps removed all landscaping, scraped the top two feet of soil from Stutzman's lot, replaced it with clean dirt and then replaced the landscaping.

"They did a terrific job on our property. They fixed anything that wasn't working like it was when we left. They did a great job compacting the soil and spreading pea gravel and replanting our plants. I feel for the landscaper who had to replant our cactus garden," she said in an email.

The Corps also paid for their stay in a hotel and gave them a daily stipend for food and other necessities.

"We were gone a month and one day and I can say we are truly blessed and glad to be home," Stutzman said. "If ever a relationship is tested, it surely is by spending a month in a hotel room with your spouse. ... We are both still alive."

The worst part of the stay was walking the dog each day, instead of just letting the dog out in the yard to do its business, she said.

Stutzman's lot is one of 10 along Ryan, Hearn and Tommie drives that were part of the old Kingman Army Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range. The range was part of the Kingman Army Air Base, which was located at the current site of the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park. The base was used during World War II to train soldiers how to use the guns on B-17 bombers.

The base included a 75-acre skeet shooting range, where soldiers practiced their skills shooting at clay targets called pigeons.

In 1996, the Corps examined the range for high explosives and ammunition and found no high explosives. It returned in 2010 to test the soil for various contaminants, including antimony, copper, lead, zinc and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

At that time, the Corps found high levels of PAHs from the clay pigeons on 52 parcels located on Tommie Drive and Lass, East Snavely, Thompson, Lum, Ryan, Hearne, Devlin, Shaeffer, John L and Northfield avenues, said Firouzi.

According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PAHs are a group of more than 100 different chemicals that are formed when coal, oil, gas, crude oil, creosote, roofing tar, tobacco and food are burned or grilled. They are also found in the coal tar that was used as a binder in the clay pigeons shot at the skeet range.

PAHs attach themselves to dust and soil. A person can be exposed to PAHs by eating contaminated food or drink, or inhaling tobacco smoke, dust or exhaust fumes.

According to the Corps, PAHs don't typically stick around in the human body. Most are flushed from the body within a few days. Chronic exposure over several years can cause cancer, a decrease in respiratory function and kidney and liver damage in some people.

In order to remove the threat, the Corps asked property owners for permission to test their soil and then remove any contaminated soil, Firouzi said. The soil is hauled off to a special site that is designed to handle potentially toxic materials.

The Corps is working in phases, she said. The Corps hopes to get the project finished before the end of the year, but it is waiting for funding from the federal government.


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