Grain Handling Facility at Freeman
S 14603 Hwy 27, Freeman, WA 99030

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD JANUARY 04, 2021-FEBRUARY 02, 2021

Draft contamination investigation and cleanup options report

You are invited to review and comment on the draft Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman site.

The RI explains the extent and locations of carbon tetrachloride and related contaminants in soil and groundwater at the site. The FS evaluates cleanup options. The grain handling facility released the pesticide carbon tetrachloride into soil, which leached into groundwater. Two options, or alternatives, are presented in the FS. Both are designed to address contaminated groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Learn more in the public notice that was mailed to the surrounding community. If you'd like to join the mailing list, please contact Erika Beresovoy at erika.beresovoy@ecy.wa.gov or 509-385-2290.

Review the draft documents
Submit comments online, via mail or email by February 2, 2021

Sandra Treccani, sandra.treccani@ecy.wa.gov
N. 4601 Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205-1265
Online comment form

Next steps

Ecology will respond to all the comments we receive by February 2, 2021, and publish our responses. We will hold an online public meeting if 10 people request it.

Then, we will use our assessment of the RI/FS and public input to draft a cleanup action plan. The draft plan will be available for public review and comment before final cleanup begins. 


Grain Handling Facility at Freeman Site
Please click on the photo for a larger view

SAFE DRINKING WATER SUPPLIED TO RESIDENTS WITH CONTAMINATED WELLS

Cenex Harvest States and Union Pacific (UP) Railroad, the parties responsible for cleaning up the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman site, found unsafe levels of carbon tetrachloride in some residential water wells. Cenex and UP have provided treatment systems to people who are using contaminated wells, and are testing the drinking water weekly to ensure it is safe.

The drinking water well that serves the Freeman School District is also contaminated. The school’s water system was fitted with a treatment system in 2013, and the water is regularly monitored and safe for drinking.

The Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is working on a health assessment. We will provide a link to it on this web page when it's complete.  

Please contact Erika Beresovoy at erika.beresovoy@ecy.wa.gov or 509-329-3546 if you'd like to be added to the mailing list.


CONTAMINATION

The grain handling facility at Freeman has leached carbon tetrachloride into soil and groundwater. 

Carbon tetrachloride is a man-made chemical that does not break down quickly in the environment. It was widely used as an agricultural pesticide and fumigant to kill insects and rodents in grain storage facilities. It was also used to make refrigerants and propellants for aerosol cans, metal degreasing, as a dry-cleaning agent, and other uses. 

In 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of carbon tetrachloride for agricultural and other uses, except some industrial applications.  


SITE HISTORY

The grain handling facility is seasonally active and includes 11 steel grain silos/bins, one steel grain elevator, and an underground receiving pit. The facility was constructed by Rockford Grain Growers around 1955.

Cenex purchased the facility in 1993, and is the current owner/operator. UP is the current and historic owner of the underlying property, and the railroad owns and operates a railway line that traverses the property and roughly parallels State Highway 27. Cenex and UP are responsible for paying for cleanup of contamination coming from the grain handling facility.

The Freeman School District elementary, middle, and high schools are located directly west and across Highway 27 from the facility. Water supply for the Freeman School District campus is collected from a well on their property. The school district routinely samples the well that supplies drinking and irrigation water for their schools. 

In January 2001, the chemical carbon tetrachloride was detected in the well water at very low levels that did not exceed state drinking water standards. Testing continued, and detections of the chemical were sporadic. In 2008, carbon tetrachloride levels began exceeding drinking water standards. This generally occurs when contamination begins to move from the source through the ground.

The Freeman School District obtained a residential property as part of a district expansion unrelated to the contamination issue. A water supply well on that property was tested in the hopes it could be a substitute well for the district. However, it also contained carbon tetrachloride at levels too high to consider it as an alternate source of water.

The school district received a grant from the Washington Department of Health to further investigate the problem. In August 2013, an air stripper treatment system was installed and is removing volatile organic compounds, such as carbon tetrachloride, from their drinking water. The district continues to monitor drinking water monthly, and sampling has met all state and federal drinking water requirements since.

Although all the identified contaminated water supplies are safe due to treatment systems, the source of the carbon tetrachloride needs to be cleaned up to protect human health and the environment.

The EPA began investigating the contamination in 2013. As a result, the carbon tetrachloride in soil and groundwater was traced to the grain handling facility, and it was added to the Superfund National Priorities List with regulatory authority delegated to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).


CLEANUP

In October 2015, Ecology issued an enforcement order requiring Cenex and UP to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study. The purposes of these activities is to determine the extent and location of contamination and evaluate cleanup options.

Ecology held a public meeting on April 22, 2015, to educate the affected community about the contamination, cleanup process, and how to be involved. Participants then had the opportunity to ask questions. Ecology published a summary of the questions and answers.  

The public had the opportunity to review and comment on the enforcement order, the scope of work for the remedial investigation and feasibility studypublic participation plan and State Environmental Policy Act checklist and determination of non-significance from October 1 through November 2, 2015. Ecology received no comments.

The remedial investigation began in May 2016 (read the community update). We granted two deadline extensions for Cenex and UP to complete additional investigative work. The initial schedule and work scope increased after contamination was found in residential wells.

Contractors drilled groundwater monitoring wells and soil borings on the Cenex property and moved out from there to find the limits of groundwater contamination. They determined the source of carbon tetrachloride appears to be contaminated soil and groundwater immediately adjacent to the grain elevators.

Work was also done to determine whether any vapors from contaminated soil are entering buildings and affecting air quality within closed spaces, known as vapor intrusionThe results showed that vapors currently don’t pose a risk with treatment systems in place and with current contamination levels.

Ecology received the draft remedial investigation in September 2018, and returned comments to Cenex and UP. They requested another year to revise the remedial investitgation and complete more work to help them write the feasibility study. We received the revised draft remedial investigation and feasibility study December 13, 2019, and are reviewing it. The report will be available for public comment before becoming final.

We approved the extension under the condition that Cenex and UP complete an interim cleanup action to capture contamination and slow groundwater plume movement. They proposed to drill a new well to pump out contaminated groundwater downgradient from the plume. The contaminated water will be treated on the grain handling facility property using activated carbon. Finally, the clean, treated water will return back underground using four new wells upgradient of the contaminated groundwater. The draft interim action work plan and related State Environmental Policy Act documents (Checklist | Determination of Non-significance) were available for public review February 12 through March 13, 2020. We responded to one set of comments and finalized the documents. The interim action work began in 2020, and the system is expected to be operating in March 2021.


 

Map showing site location as Spokane County, WA SITE INFORMATION

Map

View Electronic Documents

Cleanup Site Details Report

Facility Site ID: # 77319379

Cleanup Site ID: 12540

Location:
Freeman, Spokane County

Status: Cleanup Started   Get definitions of Status terminology

Comment Period:
JANUARY 04, 2021 - FEBRUARY 02, 2021

Contacts:
Sandra Treccani
Site Manager
(509) 329-3412

Erika Beresovoy
Public Involvement Coordinator
(509) 329-3546


Document Repositories:

Eastern Regional Office
N 4601 Monroe St
Spokane, 99205-1265
(509)329-3415

Freeman School District Office
15001 S. Jackson Rd.
Rockford, 99030
(509)291-3695

Spokane Valley Public Library
12004 East Main
Spokane Valley, 99216
(509)893-8400