Bannister Federal Complex warned of daycare risks in withheld report

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - A highly critical report that Bannister Federal Complex officials originally withheld identifies new contamination concerns near the facility’s daycare.

“I'm very concerned,” said Robin Abraham the mother of a former daycare child who now has asthma. “Very concerned.”

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources letter to General Services Administration officials at Bannister suggested GSA officials did not follow standard procedures that would have identified or ruled out health concerns.

“When I'm getting low on breath, I really can't breath that much,” said Abraham’s son, Sean, holding his inhaler.

Breathing disorders are among a long list of illnesses Environmental Protection Agency documents link to Trichloroethylene (TCE) a potentially cancer causing solvent used in manufacturing to clean metal parts.

Sean’s mother worked in a nearby building for the Internal Revenue Service and has a blood cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is another condition EPA documents associate with TCE.

The EPA Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children’s Health Report also lists headaches, dizziness, and confusion, liver, kidney, immunological, endocrine, and respiratory problems, increased risk of liver and biliary tract cancer as being potentially being associated with TCE.

The missing 2005 document identified by the Inspector General's investigation identifies multiple failures at Bannister to identify levels of TCE near the Bannister Federal Complex’s day care and nearby offices.

“We fear that the GSA is not taking the correct approach to investigate and remediate this site," wrote Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources Environmental Engineer Scott Honig.

Although the GSA estimates it provided NBC Action News with over 30,000 documents as part of our original Freedom of Information Act request, it didn’t include the critical report from MoDNR.

The 2005 report wasn’t released to NBC Action News until the GSA’s Office of Inspector General identified the missing document and notified officials they were in violation of Freedom of Information Act laws.

"I am very disappointed this letter was overlooked in the FOIA request,” said GSA Regional Administrator Jason Klumb. “I’m deeply concerned about the statements expressed in the letter by MoDNR”

“I have asked the environmental team to conduct an in-depth review of the letter and outline what action has been taken,” Klumb said.

The Honeywell managed weapons plant that makes parts for nuclear bombs is about a hundred yards from the daycare.

Daycare parents are especially concerned because the childcare facility sits above a heavily contaminated plume of ground water. That’s where tests have identified TCE.

The 2005 MoDNR report rejects GSA findings that the underground contamination was decreasing.

"There is no basis for this conclusion and it is not backed up with data," Honig wrote in the 2005 report.

“I think like if this wouldn't have happened I probably wouldn't have asthma,” said 13-year-old Sean reflecting on the toxins near where he played as a toddler.

Robin Abraham has become increasingly concerned as our investigation has identified hundreds of illnesses among former Bannister workers and additional cases among former day care children.

“If things have been going on all these years and no one ever said anything, yeah that's betrayal,” Abraham said.

An EPA official said the agency’s reevaluation of the Bannister facility since the launch of our investigation is already addressing the concerns contained in the 2005 report.

“EPA is already working with GSA through an interagency agreement and an Environmental Work Agreement to evaluate several environmental issues, including ones indicated in the 2005 MDNR letter regarding the Bannister Complex,” EPA Spokesman David Bryan said in a statement.

Brian said tests are underway to identify “scientific results to determine if there is a threat to human health or environment.”

“Our sampling to date has not shown any threat from volatile organic compounds or PCBs in those buildings,” Bryan said.

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