Wichita woman surveying neighbors over possible health issues from 29th and Grove chemical spill
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Residents in and around the 29th and Grove contamination site are being asked to fill out a health survey to see if there is a higher amount of illness in the area.
Around 2.9 miles of soil and groundwater between the Union Pacific rail yard next to the K-96 fishing lake and Murdock from north to south and from Grove to I-135 between east and west has been contaminated with Trichloroethene, a known cancer-causing agent.
The Kansas Department of Health discovered the contamination in the 90s and says the spill causing it happened in the 70s or 80s. Residents of the neighborhoods in the contamination area just found out about the problem in October of 2022.
That means potentially thousands of people have been living in the area for all those years without ever knowing they were at risk. People like Jeremy Crowley spent a lot of his childhood in the area. "I had no clue. I hadn't heard anything about it and so all the information was new to me."
That's where Aujanae Bennett is trying to help. She is the president of the Northeast Miller neighborhood association, which is the first set of homes just south of the spill site.
She is conducting a health survey, asking anyone who is living or has lived in the area to share their medical history. “We are trying to determine if there has been a greater impact in that area than usual and in order to do that, we have to gather the data from those that have lived here.”
The KDHE says all the homes in the area were hooked up to the city water system by the time the spill happened, so there is little to no risk of people being exposed to TCE. Bennett says she isn't so sure and that's why she wants to talk to her neighbors.
“We need everybody to give us the information that we need. If you know any stories if you know anything about this situation. If you've ever worked at the rail yard, it would be nice for you to come forth and speak with us about things that you may know or have experience working there.”
So what health issues are they looking for?
- Several different types of cancers. (including liver, kidney, pancreatic, or prostate)