The City of Salina in a special meeting Thursday afternoon moved a stop closer to cleaning up contamination at the Salina Regional Airport. City commissioners unanimously approved entering into a contract with the Dragun Corporation to put together a plan to begin the cleanup.
Since 1999 local officials have been trying to get federal help in cleaning up contamination that was left when the military vacated Schilling Airforce Base in the late 1960s.
At issue is contamination, things like solvents that have seeped into the ground, left behind when the Air Force vacated the base. The area is now the Salina Regional Airport.
The main concern is two large underground plumes of contamination, one in the north part of the Airport Industrial Area, and another on the south end. A large plume of the solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, is in the groundwater and soil. TCE at the time was used as an industrial solvent and has since been classified as a human carcinogen.
As part of the agreement, the federal government will fund 90 percent of the cleanup, with local entities funding 10 percent. Estimated cost to begin the cleanup is $9.3 million.
The federal share is about $8.4 million. The local share is $936,000. The City of Salina is funding the local share, and has already put the money into an account.
The action taken on Thursday gives the city the ability to take the lead on any decisions that will have to be made during the process.