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4/23/2013 6:00:00 AM
Toxic WWII cleanup forces Kingman residents to move, temporarily
Families relocated while soil on north Kingman properties is replaced
Workers remove the contaminated soil from a home on Ryan Avenue Monday afternoon in this Army Corps of Engineers project.SUZANNE ADAMS/Miner
Workers remove the contaminated soil from a home on Ryan Avenue Monday afternoon in this Army Corps of Engineers project.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is digging up potentially dangerous relics of Kingman's past and temporarily relocating residents while the work is taking place.

Around five people were moved out of their homes on Ryan and Hearne avenues last week so the Corps of Engineers could remove and replace the top two feet of soil on their property, land that was contaminated with residue from clay pigeons used at the old Kingman Army Ground-to-Ground Gunnery Range.

In order to protect the health and safety of the residents, the Corps is paying to house three people in local hotels while the work is done. The residents also get a daily allowance to help with food and other necessities. Two other residents are temporarily staying with relatives.

Joyce Stutzman and her husband, Dannie, were two of the five people who were moved from the homes. They have been living in a local hotel for about a week.

"It's an inconvenience, but we're retired, so it's not too bad for us," Joyce Stutzman said. "I'm sure it's a major inconvenience for the families with children."

In all, 52 properties located on Tommie Drive and Lass, East Snavely, Thompson, Lum, Ryan, Hearne, Devlin, Shaeffer, John L and Northfield avenues north of the city limits will be affected by the cleanup, but not all of those properties have homes on them, said District Project Manager Fran Firouzi. She could not give an exact number of vacant lots.

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 area where the range had been located, looking for high explosives and ammunition. No high explosives were found.

The Corps 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 the 52 parcels.

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 fumes.

According to the Corps, PAHs are usually flushed out of the human 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. Chronic exposure is defined as contact with PAHs 24 hours a day, 350 days of the year for at least 30 years.

In order to remove the threat, the Corps is removing the top two feet of soil from 10 lots along Ryan, Hearn and Tommie Drive, Firouzi said. The contaminated soil will be replaced with clean soil and the Corps will remove and replace all landscaping.

The contaminated soil will be disposed of in a hazardous waste facility, she said.

The soil under the homes, streets, sidewalks and driveways will not be removed. While leaving the contaminated soil there is not ideal, as long as access to that soil is restricted, it should minimize the risk, Firouzi said. The Corps will test and remove as much contaminated soil as it can from under mobile homes.

In order to remove the contaminated dirt, the residents have to sign an agreement giving the Corps access to their property, Firouzi said.

"They have the right to refuse to grant us access. It is their property," she said.

If residents refuse to allow the Corps access to clean up their properties, then residents are responsible for disclosing that the property could be contaminated to future buyers, Firouzi said.

Firouzi said the Corps expects the work on those 10 lots to be finished in the next month. Then it has to wait for funding from the federal government to clean up the next 42 parcels.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Dannies Joy

@Gary Long, Contact Fran Firouzi at 213-452-3854.

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Long

I just moved to the 3600 block of
Devlin ave how can I find out if if a letter
Was sent to the previous owner.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Article comment by: julia lovins

What good is it to remove the dirt SURROUNDING the homes, what about the soil underneath ? ? ? I would sue for relocation or a new home to be rebuilt ! These people need to get a class action lawsuit going. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without legal assistance.

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Article comment by: Dannies Joy

@Kingman Family (and others) if you are interested in what the USACE is looking at, take a look at this site: @ Katrina Billings, if you are in an affected area, the property owner would have received a letter from the USACE advising the property owner of any issues.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Family

So my question is what areas of town are they cleaning up all together, have they even looked at other areas of town or just where the range was suppose to be? I have a house near the fairgrounds and every time I have had to crawl under the house to make a repair, I can come out with several hand fulls of old 50 Cal bullets.

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shu

Rumors around town are that at the end of WWII the government buried all kinds of toxic material out at the airport.

Supposed to be tons of junk out there from those days.

You have to wonder if that could be true?

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Katrina Billings

Is there someone who we can contact to see if my home will be affected? I live on the corner of Ryan between Norrie and Tommie. and would like to know just in case

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: Elizabeth Rodriguez

We moved into our home in Chapperral Mesa 7 years ago. Our backyard was blank landscape. Our son found numerous spent shell casings - old ones. We all just thought it was cool. We knew this area used to be part of the training area for the Army. We have had a garden for the past three years and had no ill effects. Glad they didn't need to dig up our backyard tho!

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Article comment by: good news

Glad to see that something is being done to remove some of the toxic substance from that area.

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