KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Tests on the General Services Administration side of the Bannister Federal Complex have identified a tiny particle of uranium on the floor near a stairwell on the first floor.
Tests to determine where it came from and whether it could be elsewhere are now the responsibility of Jason Klumb, GSA’s new regional administrator.
“Am I concerned, of course I'm concerned,” Klumb said when asked about a 78 page report that identified uranium oxide in one of the massive office building’s main corridors.
The tests, obtained by wiping 29 surfaces in the GSA controlled part of the complex, identified only one surface with readable levels of uranium.
“I think that a critical question is at what level and the level we detected was a trace amount,” Klumb said.
According to the report, the tests identified .63 micrograms of uranium oxide, which is less than a millionth of a gram.
Some experts who oppose depleted uranium use don’t consider any level of uranium safe, but GSA experts indicate the level is too small to be a health hazard.
"The standard for depleted uranium comes from the World Health Organization, which says that an 100 lb adult would need to ingest 22 micrograms every day to cause a health problem," said GSA Industrial Hygienist Kevin Santee. "Our single result was measured at 0.63 micrograms. In spite of this, we have re-sampled the area to verify whether or not this is an anomaly and should receive those results in several days."
Klumb said tests haven’t indicated whether the uranium found was naturally occurring or man-made.
An analysis industrial hygienists provided GSA along with the test results indicates the low level of uranium wouldn’t be a threat unless a worker ate all the dirt from a contaminated surface the size of a very large floor tile “every day.”
A map shows investigators found the trace amount of uranium near a staircase on the complex's first floor.
“I believe that the Bannister Federal Complex is a healthy place to work and I come to work here everyday,” Klumb said. “We will get answers to questions.”
Industrial hygienists conducted the uranium test in February
That was when NBC Action News uncovered a report on depleted uranium and radiation sources on the other side of the complex.
The report indicated in the 1960s and 1970s, uranium was used in 10,000 pound lots at the Kansas City Plant, where they make parts for nuclear bombs.
According to a report from the National Institute of Health and Occupational Safety (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control obtained by NBC Action News, there was so much depleted uranium in the air at the time that tested employees had uranium in their urine.
Officials at the Kansas City Plant, currently managed by Honeywell, did not respond to NBC Action News requests about current depleted uranium programs during our investigation in February, but a spokeswoman did issue a statement.
“The use of radiation at KCP is consistent with common industrial processes such as x-ray and equipment calibration and depleted uranium is often used in commercial aircraft because of its density,” said plant spokesperson Tanya Snyder in an e-mail. “KCP is open and transparent in providing information about the type of work done at the plant, materials used, and types of safety controls in place.”
“The publicly available NIOSH study you cited in your e-mail was conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the federal EEOICPA process in 2005,” Snyder wrote in her e-mail response.
In her e-mail Snyder quoted several items from the CDC report that specify areas where contamination was not found.
“There is no evidence of any environmental radiological impact at the Kansas City Plant,” is one area Snyder flagged from the report in her e-mail. “No documentation has been found to indicate any significant off-site levels of contamination – no off-site airborne concentrations,” the report says.
“Air and water effluents have been monitored routinely to assess compliance with relevant criteria,” made Snyder’s list of key findings in the report, along with, “intakes after 1972 are not likely” according to the CDC report.
Since launching our investigation in November, NBC Action News has identified about 300 illnesses and/or deaths among former workers at the complex.
About half are from workers from the GSA side.
“We've got doctors and scientists who are coming in to go through all that information with a fine toothed comb,” Klumb said.
In addition to this interview, over the past two weeks, Klumb and the GSA have shown new levels of transparency.
“The current issue is primarily one of communication and it's my responsibility to address it,” Klumb said.
Klumb is now calling on NIOSH to expand its investigation to include health concerns of former workers.
“These are not the kinds of questions the GSA normally deals with,” Klumb said. “That's why we’ve turned it to the experts at NIOSH.”
Klumb has also created a website with public access to