BNSF Track Switching Facility

Facility Site ID: 1625461 Cleanup Site ID: 230

  • Site Status

  • Cleanup Started

Public Comment Period July 15, 2022-August 15, 2022

The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is providing an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the Feasibility Study (FS) Report for the uplands portion for the BNSF Track Switching Facility aka Wishram site, located at 500 Main Street, Wishram.

A Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) and a draft Cleanup Action Plan (DCAP) are required under an Agreed Order between Ecology and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF). A Remedial Investigation (RI) uses data to see how far contamination has spread. A Feasibility Study (FS) outlines options to cleanup contamination. A Cleanup Action Plan is a document describing the final cleanup action selected for the site. A DCAP is prepared following the Feasibility Study. An Agreed Order (AO) is a legal agreement between Ecology and the Potentially Liable Persons (PLPs) outlining the expectations, process, and schedule for site cleanup.

The DCAP will be prepared and made available for public review and comment upon approval of the FS.

Ecology is asking for your comments on the Feasibility Study Report.

You are invited to:

•    Review the "Uplands Feasibility Study Report, BNSF Wishram Railyard (Ecology Site Name BNSF Track Switching Facility), Wishram, Washington" dated May 26, 2022

•    Send your comments to Ecology for consideration. Comments will be accepted July 15, 2022 through August 15, 2022

The Feasibility Study is available for review above and at the "Places to see print documents" locations listed below. Please submit comments in writing to John Mefford, Site Manager, at 1250 W. Alder Street, Union Gap, WA 98903, by email: John.Mefford@ecy.wa.gov, or online at: BNSF Track Switching Facility eComments

ADA Accessibility: To request an ADA accommodation, contact Ecology at (509) 406-6931 or visit https://ecology.wa.gov/accessibility.  For Relay Service or TTY call 711 or (877) 833-6341.

Site Description

Aerial View of the BNSF Track Switching Facility - Photo courtesy of Google Earth
Aerial View of the BNSF Track Switching Facility - Photo courtesy of Google Earth

The Site is located on the northern shoreline of the Columbia River, approximately 0.75 miles south of Wishram Heights.  In the early 1900s, the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway began developing the site by constructing an Engine House, turntable, and several smaller outbuildings. The site activities included engine and railcar repairs, fueling and watering locomotives, and railcar switching. A railcar repair shop, an oil-unloading trough and associated connections and piping, a diesel fueling island, a concrete sump, and aboveground storage tanks (ASTs)and underground storage tanks (USTs) were added over the years. The ASTs and USTs had contained heavy oil, diesel fuels and heating oil.

Until the mid-1950s, steam locomotives were fueled using Bunker C heavy oil, then locomotives were transitioned over to diesel. Diesel fueling continued at the site until the late 1970s. The storage tanks were removed when fueling no longer occurred. By the 1980s, the repair shop and Engine House were removed as they were no longer needed.

In January 2002, BNSF "discovered" a 30,000-gallon, single-walled, steel underground storage tank (UST) used to supply heating oil to the boiler house. The tank was installed in the early 1970s and used until approximately 1982. After the boiler house was no longer used by BNSF, the building was converted to a parking garage for the Wishram Volunteer Fire Department ambulance.

Also in January 2002, a site assessment was conducted for BNSF by a consultant.  Soil samples taken during the site assessment phase documented the presence of diesel and heavy oil at concentrations above state cleanup levels. A site visit in April 2007 visually confirmed that the site was primarily covered with coarse gravels. No noticeable odors of petroleum products were noted during a thorough walk-around of the property border, other than what would be expected in a railroad yard.

Following the initial discovery of release from the 30,000 gallon UST, other areas were assessed since a number of USTs and ASTs had existed in the railyard. Areas where the fueling distribution piping systems were located were also assessed as well as various process areas such as the former Engine House. The site is defined by the extent of contamination throughout the BNSF property and adjoining properties.

With the completion of the The Dalles Dam in 1957, the water level rose approximately 40 feet and engulfed a portion of the shoreline. The in-water portion of the shoreline is a fishing area and part of the treaty with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and tribal members still exercise the treaty fishing rights in the area near the railyard. Contamination was also discovered in the sediments in the river.

In 1970, a merger between several railroads, including the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway created the Burlington Northern Railroad, now know as BNSF Railway Company (BNSF). BNSF currently owns the site.

The Site is currently on Ecology’s Hazardous Sites List with a ranking of “3”.  Sites on the Hazardous Sites List are a priority for Ecology, and have completed a Site Hazard Assessment (SHA). A SHA provides information about the environmental risk of the Site. Risk is based on the amount of contaminants, how toxic they are, and how easily they can come in contact with people and the environment. Sites are ranked relative to each other on a scale of “1” to “5”; with a rank of “5” being the lowest.

Cleanup Activities

BNSF Track Swithing Facility - View from the hill above the site. Photo by Ecology
BNSF Track Swithing Facility - View from the hill above the site. Photo by Ecology

The UST, which contained diesel and heavy oil at a depth of approximately two inches, was removed in April 2002. Following the UST removal, approximately 750 tons of petroleum contaminated soil was excavated down to 16 feet depth (bedrock), and transported offsite for disposal at the Rabanco Landfill in Roosevelt, Washington. Clean overburden and imported pit-run were then placed into the completed excavation in two-foot thick lifts and compacted.

Prior to backfilling, 30 confirmation samples were collected from the excavation sidewalls; none were collected from the bedrock at the bottom.  Sample results showed a thin layer of soil containing diesel and heavy oil at concentrations above cleanup levels remained in place just above bedrock to the north, east, and south of the excavated area.

In October and November 2005, addition remedial activities took place. Analytical results from confirmation samples show that the majority of the petroleum contaminated soils were removed, with only small, localized residual hydrocarbon concentrations left where further excavation could not be conducted safely. A summary of onsite groundwater monitoring well sample results document concentrations of both diesel-range and gasoline range hydrocarbons, as well as arsenic, above cleanup levels. 

In October 2015, Ecology entered into an Agreed Order (AO) with Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway, the Potentially Liable Person (PLP) at the Site, requiring the completion of a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). Cleanup in other areas of the property depend on the results of the RI/FS. The primary focus is recovery or treatment of remaining diesel and heavy oil in the ground.

An Agreed Order (AO) is a legal agreement between Ecology and the Potentially Liable Person(s) (PLPs) outlining the expectations, process, and schedule for site cleanup. A Remedial Investigation (RI) uses data to see how far contamination has spread. A Feasibility Study (FS) outlines the options to clean up contamination. A Draft Cleanup Action Plan (DCAP) is a draft document of the final cleanup action selected, which specifies cleanup standards and methods and includes any environmental monitoring required during and after cleanup.

A public comment period for the RI was held in early 2021 after Ecology approved the uplands RI in late 2020. No comments were received and the RI became final. An FS has been prepared and public review and comment period will be held in July 2022. Upon approval of the FS, a DCAP will be prepared for public review and comment.

Legal 3
Document Title Document Date Document Type
BNSF Track Switching Facility RI/FS AO No. DE 12897 10/7/2015 Agreed Order
BNSF Track Switching Facility Final PLP letter 12/3/2014 Final Potentially Liable Person Status Letter
BNSF Track Switching Facility ENL 1/4/2005 Early Notice Letter
Map 1
Document Title Document Date Document Type
BNSF Track Switching Facility Master Boring Locations 10/1/2012 Map
Public Information 6
Document Title Document Date Document Type
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Feasibility Study Fact Sheet 7/1/2022 Fact Sheet\Public Notices
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Public Participation Plan 1/1/2022 Public Participation Plan
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands RI Report Fact Sheet 1/19/2021 Fact Sheet\Public Notices
BNSF Track Switching Response to RI/FS AO Comments 11/17/2015 Responsiveness Summary
BNFS Track Switching Facility RI/FS AO fact sheet 10/7/2015 Fact Sheet\Public Notices
BNSF Track Switching Facility Public Participation Plan 6/1/2015 Public Participation Plan
Technical Reports 46
Document Title Document Date Document Type
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Uplands Feasibility Study 5/26/2022 Feasibility Study
BNSF Track Switching Facility - ECY Approval of RI Work Plan 11/19/2021 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Wishram Track Switching Facility - Sediment Remedial Investigation Work Plan 11/1/2021 Remedial Investigation Work Plan
BNSF Track Switching Facility - ECY Approval of Uplands Remedial Investigation Report 3/1/2021 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Ecology Comments on Draft Sediment RI Work Plan 2/12/2021 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Ecology Response to Modification of Groundwater Monitoring Request 12/10/2020 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Ecology Approval of RI Report 11/24/2020 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 8 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 7 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 6 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 5 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 4 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 3 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 2 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report - Part 1 10/20/2020 Remedial Investigation Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - ECY Comments on Sediment RI 9/30/2020 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility aka Wishram - ECY Responds to BNSF Comments on Sediments Investigation 8/13/2020 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility aka Wishram Railyard - ECY Comments on IIWP Addendum 4/21/2020 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility aka Wishram - Ecology Comments on draft Uplands Remedial Investigation Report 12/18/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Update on Environmental Investigation to Yakama Nation Tribe 10/31/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Update on Environmental Investigation to Warm Springs Tribe 10/31/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Update on Environmental Investigation to Umatilla Tribe 10/31/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Update to Nez Perce Tribe 10/31/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Ecology Comments on draft Inundated Land Initial Investigation Report 10/11/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Wishram - LNAPL, Bioventing, NSZD Work Plan 9/30/2019 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Draft Inundated Initial Investigaion WP Addendum 8/5/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - ECY Comments on draft testing Work Plan DE 12897 7/23/2019 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Compliance with SW Cleanup Stds in MTCA 12/17/2018 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility Final RI Work Plan Addendum 2/23/2018 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Wishram Nearshore Sediment Initial Investigation Work Plan 1/1/2018 Remedial Investigation Work Plan
BNSF Track Switching RI Work Plan 3/20/2017 Remedial Investigation Work Plan
BNSF Track Switching Facility 30-day notice of potential liability 10/20/2014 Site Specific Administrative Document - other (Administrative correspondence)
BNSF Track Switching Facility TarGOST Investigation report 9/26/2013 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility March 2012 Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation System Construction Report 9/7/2012 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility Site Investigation 8/1/2012 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility Supplemental Site Investigation - WMW-7 Area LNAPL Sources 9/30/2010 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility Supplement Site Remediation Concrete Vault/Foundation Area 8/12/2010 Remedial Action Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility Groundwater Monitoring Report 3/4/2010 Groundwater Monitoring Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility - Site Hazard Assessment 8/3/2007 Site Hazard Assessment Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility Rail Grinder Cleanup Report 5/1/2007 Remedial Action Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility Remediation Documentation Report 3/1/2007 Remedial Action Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility Soil Remediation Summary and Proposed Groundwater Activities 5/17/2006 Remedial Action Report
BNSF Track Switching Facility Remediation Work Plan 6/1/2005 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility Site Assessment Report Aug 2004 8/1/2004 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility UST Site Assessment Report 2/1/2004 Site Specific Technical Document - other
BNSF Track Switching Facility UST Removal Report 10/1/2003 Site Specific Technical Document - other
There may be more documents related to this site. To obtain documents not available electronically, you will need to make a public records request.

Places to see print documents

  • Central Regional Office
    1250 W Alder St
    Union Gap, 98903-0009
    Please schedule an appointment to view print documents at this location.

Contaminants 4

Contaminant Type
Soil
Groundwater
Surface Water
Air
Sediment
Bedrock
Halogenated Organics - Polychlorinated biPhenyls (PCB) B
Metals - Arsenic C
Non-Halogenated Organics - Petroleum-Diesel C C
Non-Halogenated Organics - Petroleum-Other C C C
S
Suspected
C
Confirmed Above Cleanup Levels
B
Below Cleanup Levels
RA
Remediated-Above
RB
Remediated-Below
R
Remediated
This contaminant list was based on our best information at the time it was entered. It may not reflect current conditions at the site.