Cleanup of Historic Industrial Site Near Kalispell Reaches Milestone

BNSF Railway, with oversight by DEQ, has completed work to address soil pollutants at the KRY Site

By Beacon Staff

Contaminated soil cleanup work at a site northeast of Kalispell near the Stillwater River has reached a milestone, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced last week.

BNSF Railway, with oversight by DEQ, has completed work to address soil pollutants at the KRY Site. Portions of the 44.5-acre site — which once housed a post and pole treatment plant, a petroleum refinery, and a petroleum bulk plant — may now become available for redevelopment.

“These cleanup milestones are always a big deal for Montana, especially when we’ve reached a point of redevelopment,” DEQ Deputy Director George Mathieus stated in a press release. “This was a highly contaminated site that now has the potential to be of economic benefit to the community.”

Historically, the Kalispell Pole and Timber Company operated on 35 acres with the Reliance Refinery facility occupying 7 acres, and the Yale Oil facility used 2.5 acres — with all three listed as state Superfund sites. The three are collectively referred to as the KRY Site, located in Evergreen. A railroad spur bisects the property and BNSF today owns 24.27 acres of the site, with the remainder divided among five additional public and private owners.

Activities stemming from operation of the refinery and bulk fuel plants and treatment of post and poles contaminated soils and groundwater. Investigations identified contamination from petroleum products, as well as metals such as lead.

Major components of the remedy addressed lead-contaminated soils, petroleum sludge and petroleum-contaminated soils through removal to offsite treatment and disposal facilities, as well as onsite treatment of some contaminated soil and placement of dioxin-contaminated soil in an onsite repository.

While the soils portion of the cleanup is complete, treatment of groundwater continues and a controlled groundwater area is planned.

Reuse and redevelopment of the KRY Site will be protective of human health through planned institutional controls. For example, development of the properties is restricted to industrial uses. Further, the capped repository onsite will be protected from excavation or disturbance and construction will be precluded in areas with high methane concentrations in soils caused by the decay of long-buried sawdust.

Continuing groundwater monitoring and cleanup should not affect redevelopment, according to Mathieus. However, water well drilling will be restricted. Most of the area is served by the Evergreen municipal water distribution system.

“We’re pleased with the progress and coordination with multiple stakeholders as we work cooperatively to close the site,” said Ross Lane, BNSF public affairs director. “BNSF is dedicated to the environment and to the communities in which we operate.”

The property is adjacent to Glacier Rail Park, owned by the Flathead County Economic Development Authority and already being developed as a rail-served industrial park.

“This is a win for the community,” Kim Morisaki, Business Development and Marketing Director for Montana West, stated in the release. “As property owners next to the site, we’re thrilled the cleanup is a success and completed well ahead of schedule. Contamination has been removed and the property along the train tracks is again available for industrial development.”

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