The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and BNSF Railway have nearly completed the cleanup of an old industrial site in Evergreen. In the coming weeks, the final carloads of petroleum-contaminated soils will be loaded into railcars destined for a treatment facility in North Dakota.
The cleanup at the state superfund site has been ongoing for the last few years, but the biggest push came in 2012 and 2013, according to Moriah Bucy, state superfund section manager for DEQ. Bucy said now that the land is almost cleaned it could be used for an industrial park and perhaps added to the nearby rail park being built.
“The soil has been cleaned and it’s a positive thing,” Bucy said. “This has been a huge project and it’s made the land usable again. There was petroleum oozing out of the ground.”
The superfund site is located just northwest of U.S. Highway 2 in Evergreen, along the railroad tracks that are owned by BNSF but now used by the Mission Mountain Railroad. The site was used from the 1920s until 1990. The longest tenant was Kalispell Pole and Timber, which had a wood treatment operation on the site from 1945 until 1990. Reliance Refining Company processed crude oil from eastern Montana and North Dakota from 1924 to the 1960s and Yale Oil Corporation, which was owned by Exxon, was open from 1938 to 1978. While those companies were responsible for much of the contamination of the site, BNSF owned a majority of the property involved, leaving it responsible for the cleanup. The 75-acre area is known as the KRY Site, which comes from the first letter of each company that was there.
Over the last two years, DEQ and BNSF have overseen the injection of chemicals in the groundwater to break down contaminants. Petroleum-contaminated soils, with literally black sludge oozing out, was excavated and is being hauled off site.
“We are very pleased to report that site cleanup is progressing according to schedule. This complicated project required a team effort from both internal and external stakeholders including the local community,” said John Lovenburg, BNSF vice president environmental. “BNSF greatly appreciates the cooperation of the Evergreen community as we work to finish restoration of the KRY property.”
While a majority of the work at the site is completed, Bucy said that some additional treatments would go on for years, specifically on the Kalispell Pole and Timber site. In order to restore that soil, contractors will need to till it every year for at least a decade. There is also a small section of soil that still needs treatment because it’s next to a gas line, which complicated the cleanup. Overall, DEQ officials called the cleanup a major success.
“We are very proud of the progress that’s been made to clean up this site,” said DEQ Director Tracy-Stone Manning. “This project resulted in a cleaner, safer environment for the community of Kalispell.”
For more information about the cleanup, visit www.deq.mt.gov/StateSuperfund/kpt.mcpx.
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