DEQ Press Releases

Driscoll, Paul

Cleanup of historic industrial site near Kalispell reaches milestone

Helena – 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 today.


BNSF Railway Company, 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,” said DEQ Deputy Director George Mathieus. “This was a highly contaminated site that now has the potential to be of economic benefit to the community.”


Historically, the Kalispell Pole & Timber company operated on 35 acres with the Reliance Refinery facility occupying 7 acres, and the Yale Oil facility using 2.5 acres – with all three listed as State Superfund Sites.  The three are collectively referred to as the KRY Site. 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, pentachlorophenol, dioxins/furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals such as lead. Major components of the remedy addressed lead-contaminated soils, petroleum sludge and petroleum-contaminated soils through removal to offsite treatment/disposal facilities, as well as onsite treatment of pentachlorophenol-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 onsite capped repository 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. 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 Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation owns 5 acres at the site and has worked with DEQ on placement of institutional controls. “We look forward to dovetailing with our neighbors’ efforts as we make our own land available for appropriate development,” said Anne Shaw Moran, DNRC Kalispell Unit Planner. 


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,” said Kim Morisaki, Business Development and Marketing Director for Montana West.  “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.”


DNRC’s Moran adds, “We commend DEQ for their outstanding efforts in reclaiming the site. All the partners involved have done an amazing job of transforming a complex effort to an on-the-ground reality.” 

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