Congressman Emanuel Cleaver announced Friday that a final version of a federal appropriations bill contains $200 million to fund demolition and remediation of the decommissioning Bannister Federal Complex.
The funding, if the spending bill is ultimately passed into law, is expected to assist with the eventual transfer to a private owner of the Bannister Federal Complex, which is now owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Without the appropriation, the federal government would spend $40 million maintaining the empty 300-acre campus, which once produced non-nuclear components for the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
“Our hands were tied. We could not make a move toward the new use and new ownership at the Bannister Complex without the full funding,” Cleaver said in a written statement. “Thankfully, we can now get to work and begin the clean-up and redevelopment of this blighted area.”
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Politicians view the potential reuse of the Bannister Federal Complex as a key development in south Kansas City, where the campus once employed thousands. The remaining employees at Bannister, which was built in 1942, relocated to downtown Kansas City last year. A new non-nuclear parts plant operated by Honeywell was built in southeast Kansas City at Missouri Highway 150 and Botts Road.
Others say it’s too soon to start tearing Bannister down without a more complete understanding of the environmental and health risks involved. One of the Bannister Federal Complex’s legacies is environmental contamination.
“The reason the demolition shouldn’t go forward is for at least a decade, we’ve been asking — I’m talking about the sick and dying workers — we’ve been asking for an investigation of the complex,” said Maurice Copeland, a former employee at Bannister.
Copeland, who worked at Bannister for 32 years, has tried to help other former campus employees receive compensation for illnesses they say were caused by environmental conditions at the site.