Hazardous Waste Program

AK Steel Corp.

EPA ID# MOD007118029

DNR Contact:         Chris Kump-Mitchell, PE, 573-751-3553 or 800-361-4827
EPA Contact:         Bruce Morrison, RG, 913-551-7755 or 800-223-0425
Facility Contact:     Cory Levengood, 513-425-2711
Last Updated:         Dec. 18, 2012

What’s New

Permit Application for Renewal Complete: On Aug. 21, 2003, AK Steel submitted a permit application to the department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7, to renew their existing Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit and Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit. The department is inviting the public to review and offer written comments on the permit renewal application while the department conducts a technical review of the permit application.

The public can review and copy the permit application and supporting documents at the Kansas City Public Library’s North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Road, Kansas City, Missouri (during normal business hours) or agency locations above. Comments on the permit application are more effective if they point out legal or technical issues. You may submit written comments online or send them by mail to Chris Kump-Mitchell, PE, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Hazardous Waste Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176.

Facility Description

AK Steel operated a steel manufacturing facility, on about 1,000 acres located along the Blue River at 7001 Winner Road in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Bolt and Nut Company first owned the property in 1888 and manufactured iron nuts and bolts from purchased iron. In the early 1920s, open-hearth furnaces were installed and steel products were manufactured from melted steel and iron scrap. The company’s name changed to the Sheffield Steel Corp. in 1925 and then to Armco Inc., Midwestern Steel Division, in 1930, when Sheffield Steel Corp. became a subsidiary of Armco Steel Corp.

In the 1950s, Armco led the way in producing carbon steel products from 100 percent recycled scrap iron and steel. They also produced steel ingots that were then rolled to produce billets, which were used mainly as feed stock for the other plant operations. Armco stopped using the open-hearth furnaces in 1959, which were later torn down. By 1977, Armoco operated six electric arc furnaces in two melt shops, a blooming mill, and a continuous caster.

An electric arc furnace produces about 30 pounds of dust for every ton of steel manufactured. This dust is classified as a hazardous waste because it contains leachable amounts of lead and cadmium and a high concentration of zinc. Armco collected the dust in the baghouse air pollution equipment. From 1962 to 1965, Armco disposed of approximately 14,000 cubic yards of baghouse dust, mill scale and inert construction debris in an on-site landfill named the South of Bar Fab Landfill. From 1965 to 1980, Armco disposed of approximately 185,000 cubic yards of emission control dust from the melt shops and general plant and office trash in an on-site landfill named the Old Blue River “W” Landfill. From July 1980 to January 1983, Armco disposed of approximately 36,000 cubic yards of baghouse dust in two on-site trenches, collectively referred to as the RCRA Landfill. In January 1983, Armco began storing the baghouse dust in four storage tanks until they began shipping the dust off site for zinc recovery in July 1986. Armco closed the landfills and trenches with the hazardous waste in place.

Armco used several types of solvents as part of the steel manufacturing process. Pickling liquor (heated 5% sulfuric acid) was used to remove rust and scale from the steel. Trichloroethylene was used as a solvent prior to 1988. In 1988 Armco began collecting and storing used solvents around the facility for recycling by Safety Kleen. Storage capacity of the 78 spent solvent storage units ranged from 6 to 250 gallons. The main solvent constituents consisted of petroleum naphtha, benzene, and tetrachloroethylene.

From 1973 to 1980, Armco leased part of its property to Amoco for use as a landfarm. Between 1975 and 1979, Amoco landfarmed approximately 30,000 tons of petroleum refining waste produced at the Amoco Sugar Creek Refinery, located to the east of the property. Amoco incorporated an estimated 3 to 8 inches of waste into the soil each year. In 1976 or 1977, a one-time application of less than 10,000 gallons of liquid and sludge from a fuel oil tank was applied. 

Several of Armco’s processes stopped in the 1980s due to changing economic conditions. By 1983, production was limited to semi-finished and finished steel products. The melt shops, mills, and cleaning house were shut down by 1989. In November 1993, Armco sold about 300 acres of the property to GST Technologies Inc., doing business as GST Steel Co. In 1991, several structures were demolished and Armco announced the building of a heavy industrial business complex, called the “Sheffield Industrial Park”.

In October 1998, Armco sold less than one acre of the property to the Kansas City Terminal Railway Co. for the construction of an overhead railroad bridge known as the Flyover Project. Armco also provided the railway company with unlimited project site access under a 2-year easement agreement during construction of the Flyover Project.

Armco changed their name to AK Steel Corp. in October 1999. AK Steel is currently performing long-term monitoring and maintenance of the closed landfills and trenches and investigation and corrective action activities for releases of hazardous waste to the environment. GST Steel operated on their part of the property until they filed for bankruptcy in April 2001. GST Steel sold approximately 20 acres of the property to American Properties LLP, who later sold to Hansen Property Development Inc. GST Steel sold the majority of their property to Compass Big Blue LLC. Compass in turn sold parts of the property to House of Burguesses and Blue Summit LLC. The department and EPA are coordinating redevelopment of the property with all site owners. The main contaminants of concern at the site are lead, cadmium, zinc, arsenic and various volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.

Post-Closure and Corrective Action Status

The South of Bar Fab Landfill was a 1-acre on-site landfill located on a narrow strip of land between the Blue River and I-435. The Old Blue River “W” Landfill was a 7.25-acre on-site landfill created in an old channel of the Blue River. Armco closed both hazardous waste landfills in 1980 with the waste left in place. Both landfills were capped with about 3 feet of dirt and a good vegetative cover. Because Armco closed the two landfills before Congress enacted the federal hazardous waste laws and regulations, the landfills are regulated as Solid Waste Management Units, or SWMUs, instead of landfills.

The RCRA Landfill consists of two trenches along the Blue River, one 1,300 feet long x 10 feet deep x 50 feet wide and one 650 feet long x 10 feet deep x 50 feet wide. In September 1984, Burns & McDonnell certified the RCRA Landfill as closed according to the closure plan approved by EPA Aug. 25, 1983. This landfill was also capped with about 3 feet of dirt and a good vegetative cover. Armco took samples of the RCRA Landfill in June 1982, before the closure process began. The sample results showed elevated levels of lead, chromium and cadmium. Armco installed monitoring wells around the RCRA Landfill in the 1980s and conducted Interim Status groundwater monitoring from 1983 through 1993. Cadmium, chromium, and lead were the main constituents monitored. March 1990 sample results showed a high concentration of lead; however cadmium and chromium were below their respective regulatory criteria. One sample result also showed a high concentration of zinc.

No samples were collected from the Old Blue River “W” Landfill after the closure. The facility assumed the sampling results would be similar to the sampling results of the RCRA Landfill. In 1984, the Old Blue River “W” Landfill was added to the department’s Registry of Confirmed Abandoned or Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in Missouri.

In April 1987, Armco notified the department of a waste pile they discovered near the Old Blue River “W” Landfill. The waste pile was a 1.5 to 2-acre pile, containing about 14,000 cubic yards of baghouse dust. It was not known how long this waste pile was there or why it was not discovered until 1987. By November 1988, the waste had been removed and shipped to a recycling facility for zinc recovery. No samples were collected from the waste pile before the removal. The facility assumed the sampling results would be similar to the sampling results of the RCRA Landfill. No confirmatory samples were collected from the waste pile after the removal. Later sampling indicated the actual footprint of the waste pile is approximately 16 acres.

In May 1988, Armco notified the department when they became aware that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had removed the soil cap and some waste from the South of Bar Fab Landfill between 1984 and 1986 during channelization work along the Blue River. The remaining waste in the landfill was exposed across an area approximately 440 feet long and averaging 100 feet wide. Remcor, Armco’s contractor, collected samples from the exposed waste and surrounding soil. The sample results showed high levels of lead and cadmium. In December 1988, Armco and the City of Kansas City installed a concrete cap on the west side of the landfill along the Blue River and on the east side along a drainage culvert. A road was built over the landfill in 1998.

In 1992 a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, Facility Assessment was completed for the site in order to identify potential or actual releases from SWMUs. When Armco’s hazardous waste permits were issued in 1994, the groundwater monitoring program around the RCRA Landfill changed from Interim Status monitoring to detection monitoring. Groundwater monitoring occurred semi-annually with cadmium, chromium and lead remaining as the main constituents monitored. The results from several sampling events showed no contaminants above regulatory limits. The department released Armco from surface water monitoring requirements in 1995 and groundwater monitoring requirements in May 1998. Cap maintenance and institutional controls continue, as required by the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit.

A RCRA Facility Investigation was conducted at the site in 1999, in order to define the horizontal and vertical extent of the soil and groundwater contamination. Burns and McDonnell submitted the investigation report to the department Sept. 14, 1999. The sample results showed no contaminants above regulatory limits in groundwater samples collected at the South of Bar Fab Landfill. Volatile organic compounds and lead were detected above regulatory limits in groundwater samples at the Old Blue River "W" Landfill. The samples results from the area of the former waste pile also showed high levels of cadmium and lead in the soil. Arsenic, cadmium, lead and volatile organic compounds were detected at concentrations above regulatory limits in the former storage tank area soil. Lead was detected in soil at the former landfarm area at concentrations above regulatory limits. Several other SWMUs and areas of concern were also sampled. Based on analytical results, the investigation concluded that several of the SWMUs and areas of concern required additional investigation.

Additional sampling was performed in 2007, to confirm the conclusions made in the 1999 RCRA Facility Investigation report. Burns and McDonnell submitted the supplemental report to the department in March 2008. The new data confirmed the past sampling results. Several additional sampling events have occurred over the past several years in order to help determine the need to conduct interim or corrective measures for the facility. This process has become more complicated as parts of the original site are now owned by different owners and SWMUs and areas of concern cross property lines. All owners have been coordinating redevelopment of their part of the site with the department and EPA.

AK Steel developed a draft Corrective Measures Study work plan to identify and evaluate possible remedial alternatives for the soil and groundwater contamination at 11 SWMUs and three areas of concern located on property owned by AK Steel. Additional corrective measures may be required on property no longer owned by AK Steel. The department and EPA are current reviewing the Corrective Measures Study work plan. When the study is complete, the department and EPA will review the possible remedial measures and select the best remedy given site-specific considerations for each SWMU or area of concern. The public will be invited to review and comment on the proposed final remedy before the department and EPA make a final decision.

Hazardous Waste Permit Status

AK Steel is conducting post-closure and corrective action activities under two hazardous waste permits, one issued by the department and one issued by EPA, both effective Feb. 16, 1994. The department issued the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit, which requires long-term monitoring and maintenance of the RCRA Landfill. EPA issued the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit, which address the corrective action, or cleanup, requirements for the remaining landfills, SWMUs and areas of concern. EPA has oversight responsibility for AK Steel’s investigation and corrective action activities, with the department acting as technical lead. The regulated units under the current permits consist of 20 SWMUs and four areas of concern.

AK Steel submitted a permit application on Aug. 21, 2003, for renewal of their existing hazardous waste permits, which expired Feb. 16, 2004. State and federal regulations allow the existing hazardous waste permits to continue in effect until the department and EPA issue or deny new hazardous waste permits. The department determined the permit application was complete on Nov. 20, 2003. The department is conducting a technical review of the permit application. When the department and EPA issue the new hazardous waste permits, the oversight responsibility for AK Steel’s investigation and corrective action activities will transfer from EPA to the department.

Lewis and Clark Expressway

The Lewis and Clark Expressway, formerly known as the South Riverfront Expressway or the Jackson County Roadway, is proposed to be built on part of the AK Steel property. The expressway will serve as a loop through Eastern Jackson County from I-70 at the Little Blue River, north to U.S. 24 and then west through northern Independence, Sugar Creek and the East Bottoms in Kansas City, ending at the Chouteau bridge. The preliminary design for the section that will impact AK Steel, between I-435/Front St. in Kansas City to Sterling Ave. in Sugar Creek, started in August 2009 and has been completed.

Representatives of the cities of Sugar Creek, Kansas City and Independence chose a consultant to complete the final design. A stakeholder group was formed to assist with the design process. The stakeholders include the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Transportation, EPA, the cities of Sugar Creek, Kansas City and Independence, the design firms and area property owners. The final design for the Sterling Avenue portion of the expressway is well underway.