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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Region 6 Environmental Contaminants

Badger, Waco, Lawton & Crestline Subsites, Cherokee County - Kansas  

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The Badger, Lawton, Waco and Crestline mining areas are four of the seven subsites which make up the Cherokee County Superfund Site (Figure 1).  These smaller mining areas are considered together as Operable Unit 6 (OU-6) because of their similar sizes, location, geological characteristics, and production histories.  These areas are part of the much larger Tri-State Mining District of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Mining began at the Badger Subsite in approximately 1889, at Crestline in approximately 1906, at Lawton in approximately 1907, and at Waco in approximately 1916.  The Waco mining area, which straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line, was the largest and most productive of these four areas, followed by Badger, Crestline, and Lawton.  Altogether, these mining areas produced approximately 9.9 million tons of ore.  Zinc concentrates produced at the Waco Subsite were especially valuable due to the low lead content. 

The ores at OU-6 were found in multiple horizons from less than 100 to more than 300 feet below the ground surface.  To extract these ores, some mines, such as those at Waco, had up to four levels of mining.  The resulting layering of excavations at the sites has led to instability and subsidence of the ground surface, creating many ponds, pits, collapses, and shafts that are filled by surface water and/or groundwater.  The Waco Subsite alone has approximately 13 ponds which were created by surface subsidences.

Surface waters that do not flow directly into subsidences or other mining features flow to the Spring River or its two primary tributaries, Cow Creek and Shawnee Creek.  The Spring River is a major interstate stream and is located on the eastern side of OU-6.  The Waco and Lawton Subsites drain towards Cow Creek; the Crestline Subsite drains towards Shawnee Creek; and the Spring River flows through the Badger Subsite.  One mine at the Waco Subsite actually crossed underneath the Spring River. 

Ecological risks are the primary site risks at OU-6; human health risks are low due to the area’s low population.   Ecological risks result from elevated levels of zinc, lead, and cadmium in mining wastes, soils, sediments, groundwater, and surface water within the four subsites.  Ecological receptors are exposed to heavy metals primarily by ingestion of impacted mine wastes, soils, surface water, vegetation, and prey as well as inhalation of  dusts.

(Information obtained from the Focused Feasibility Study for Badger, Lawton, Waco and Crestline Subsites, Cherokee County Kansas, NewFields 2003; and the Proposed Plan, Cherokee County Superfund Site, Badger, Lawton, Waco, and Crestline Subsites Operable Unit #06, USEPA 2004.)



Tailings Impoundment at Waco Subsite, OU-6,
Cherokee County, KS.  January 29, 2004. 
Photo taken by John Miesner/USFWS.

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