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‘Not something to mess around with’ — What’s going on with creosote pollution in northwest Springfield?

The former Kerr-McGee railroad tie plant, which operated from 1907 to 2004 while emitting creosote pollution, is shown on West High Street in Springfield, Missouri on Feb. 27, 2023.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
The former Kerr-McGee railroad tie plant, which operated from 1907 to 2004 while emitting creosote pollution, is shown on West High Street in Springfield, Missouri on Feb. 27, 2023.

Last week, the Springfield News-Leader published coverage of a standing-room only meeting at an American Legion hall in northwest Springfield.

Community members were there to learn about efforts to clean up creosote pollution. An old Kerr-McGee railroad tie plant put out the substance while it operated — from 1907 until 2004.

Springfield News-Leader journalist Harry Keegan was there at the meeting, called by a multistate trust tasked with cleaning up the site — and KSMU invited Keegan on air to talk about yet another long-term pollution issue in the general northwest Springfield area, which has already been subject to TCE pollution associated with the old Litton Systems plant near the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

Creosote is considered likely a cancer-causing substance, according to the EPA, the CDC and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.