General Services Administration says move out of Bannister not linked to deaths and illnesses

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Bannister Federal Complex will be shutting down within two-and-a-half years and all employees will be sent to other locations, according to the General Services Administration.

Officials said the move is not related to deaths and illnesses identified by an ongoing 41 Action News investigation.

"This decision was made because NNSA will be vacating their facility, so we were going to make a decision to have the timing right to leave Bannister at the same time," said Angela Brees, GSA spokeswoman.

RELATED | Congressman Emanuel Cleaver weighs in on GSA relocation http://bit.ly/ADy8UL

"All employees are moving out of the Bannister Federal Complex before the end of 2014 and will relocate more than 1,000 employees to a location in downtown Kansas City," Brees said. "We are in the process of determining our size and site requirements."

"They will begin a search for interested landlords in the fall," Brees said.

The GSA is now looking for a buyer and/or redeveloper for the property which has multiple Super Fund sites on the grounds.

The 41 Action News investigation has identified about 900 toxins at the complex and more than 450 sick or dead from a registry of current and former workers

The government's official list includes several radioactive materials, but does not name plutonium, although the 41 Action News investigation did identify small amounts of plutonium as among 898 toxins at the facility.

Read more: http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/plutonium-and-more-than-100-other-new-toxins-identified-at-bannister-federal-complex-#ixzz1mUGZ1sPm

The move out of the facility is being led by the Regional Commissioner Mary Ruwwe, the same GSA official who had denied knowledge of workers complaining of cancers and deaths at high rates at the facility.

A 41 Action News Investigation has uncovered Freedom of Information Act documents indicating the official had e-mailed a Bannister death list e-mail warning top GSA officials about worker health fears specifying cancer and deaths.

Despite sending the e-mail months prior to our November 2010 investigation, she denied knowledge of the problem to workers and 41 Action News until the Investigators uncovered the e-mail through the Freedom of Information Act.

Over the two year period she received the Bannister death list, denied knowledge of worker concerns, and hired a public relations firm to hand our inquiry she was rewarded $22,000 for Ruwwe in GSA bonus money.

Read more: http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/bannister-death-list-officials-share-in-%2426M-general-services-administration-bonus-payout#ixzz1mUIdmlz1

GSA officials said the move is being timed to coincide with the National Nuclear Security Administration's departure from the facility.

The NNSA program, which builds parts for nuclear bombs and is managed by Honeywell, is moving to a new location at the northwest corner of Missouri Highway 150 and Botts Road in 2014.

The GSA said it houses nine different federal agencies at the 300 acre site.

The NNSA owns two thirds of the building.

"The agency will continue to perform environmental testing on the site and remains committed to environmental monitoring and remediation under the joint GSA and NNSA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit as advised by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources," a GSA statement said.

The GSA hopes someone new will purchase or lease the grounds.

"GSA will be moving its regional headquarters and roughly 1,000 federal employees to downtown, while also preparing the Bannister Federal Complex for redevelopment and a new future in south Kansas City," said GSA Heartland Regional Administrator Jason Klumb.

To see our entire investigation, click here:  http:// www.kshb.com/generic/news/local_news/investigations/Topic-Investigators-Bannister

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