Waste and Underground Tank Management Bureau

Flying J Petroleums
Former Cut Bank Refinery
Cut Bank, Montana


BNSF Location Map Location Map
Flying J Sign


Flying J Former Gas Plant Area
Former Gas Plant Area


Flying J Former Refinery Process Area
Former Refinery Process Area


Flying J API Separator
Old API Separator

Click on Photo to Enlarge


The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law which requires proper management and disposal of hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste permits are required for on-site hazardous waste management units (regulated units) that are used to treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste permits must also include provisions requiring an owner or operator to conduct facility-wide investigation and remediation of releases of hazardous constituents.  In certain cases, alternative enforcement mechanisms such as Administrative Orders may be issued in lieu of a permit for post-closure care of regulated units and facility-wide corrective action.

The Montana Hazardous Waste Act (MHWA) is the State equivalent of RCRA.  The State of Montana has been approved by EPA to implement hazardous waste regulations for closure and post-closure care of regulated units and facility-wide corrective action.



Flying J Petroleums, Inc. is the current owner of a former petroleum refinery and gas absorption plant (Former Refinery) near Cut Bank, Montana.  The Former Refinery is located approximately 4 miles southeast of the town of Cut Bank in Glacier County, Montana and encompasses approximately 220 acres of relatively flat-lying land situated along the northeast side of US Highway 2.  The Former Refinery site consists of two process areas:  the Refinery Process Area and the Gas Absorption Plant.  The Process Area was operated from 1939 through 1983; the Gas Absorption Plant operated from 1932 through 1987.   



The Former Refinery is currently regulated under the Montana Hazardous Waste Act (MHWA) as an interim status treatment, storage, and disposal facility (TSDF).  The two regulated units used at the facility to treat and dispose of regulated hazardous wastes when the refinery was in operation include the closed Guard Pond (Lagoon 1) and the closed Surfaerator Pond (Lagoon 2).  These regulated units were in service from 1976 to 1983 and were closed when the refining process operations were discontinued.  During closure, oily sludge in the surface impoundments was stabilized and then capped in place.  These two regulated units were certified closed with hazardous wastes in place in 1989.  In accordance with Montana hazardous waste regulations, regulated units which have been closed with waste in place must undergo post-closure care and maintenance under the authority of a permit or alternative enforcement mechanism.  In the case of the Former Refinery, an Administrative Order on Consent (MHWCAO-07-01) was issued.  The Order was issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to Flying J Petroleums in 2008.  The Order specifies requirements for post-closure care of the regulated units, and facility-wide corrective action at the Former Refinery.



The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined an approach to facility-wide corrective action which consists of four phases:

RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA)
RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) which includes:
    - Human Health Risk Characterization
    - Ecological Risk Characterization/Assessment
Corrective Measures Study (CMS)
Corrective Measures Implementation (CMI)

A RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA) was conducted by the EPA in 1988 at the Former Refinery.  The RFA identified potential sources of releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents in areas throughout the facility which needed further investigation and potential remediation.  Areas where waste was currently or historically managed (Solid Waste Management Units or SWMUs) and areas where contamination occurred or potentially occurred (Areas of Concern or AOCs) were also identified during the assessment.

The Order issued by the Montana DEQ requires that Flying J Petroleums submit a Current Conditions Report and work plans for the RFI, CMS, and CMI phases.  The Current Conditions Report describes the history of and existing conditions at the Former Refinery, previous investigations and monitoring programs, SWMUs and AOCs, past spills and releases, waste characteristics, and the known nature and extent of contamination.  The RFI Work Plan identifies the objectives, approach, scope of work, and methodology of the facility investigation that Flying J Petroleums will use to further characterize past releases of hazardous constituents at the Former Refinery and identify the potential risk to human health and the environment contamination those releases might pose.

Data collected in accordance with the RFI Work Plan must be of sufficient quality and quantity to assess risk and evaluate corrective measures for remediation of soil and groundwater contamination.  The CMS will be conducted after the RFI is completed if potential risk to human health and the environment is sufficient to warrant remediation of contaminated media.  The CMS will evaluate and recommend appropriate corrective measures alternatives that will mitigate the potential risk to human health and the environment.  The Montana DEQ will then select a site remedy to address the contamination, based on the results of the CMS.  After public comment on the remedy, Flying J Petroleums will be required to implement the remedy through a CMI work plan, which includes design, construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of the corrective measures selected for the site remedy.    



Flying J Petroleums has submitted a draft Current Conditions Report and RFI Work Plan for review by Montana DEQ.  Field work will begin once the report and work plan have been approved.  



Throughout the cleanup process, the DEQ will keep the public informed through notices of public meetings and public comment periods in area newspapers. 



DEQ Contact: 
Becky Holmes, Environmental Science Specialist
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 200901
Helena, Montana 59620-0901
e-mail: rholmes@mt.gov