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UP Responsible for Grain Elevator Site Clean-up

Washington State offers options on plans to clean up Freeman facility

The Washington state Department of Ecology is seeking public input on proposed multimillion-dollar plans to clean up contamination at a grain elevator in the Freeman area, about 13 miles south of Spokane Valley, reports the Spokane Journal.

A plume of carbon tetrachloride spanning a half-mile underground originates from a seasonally active grain-handling facility and was discovered in the groundwater beneath the Freeman School District as well as in the wells of three households near the grain-handling facility. Carbon tetrachloride was historically used as a pesticide in grain storage facilities.

Carbon tetrachloride was detected in the school district’s well in the early 2000s, but at concentrations that the EPA considers safe. Around 2012, the school district found that the concentration had increased to an unsafe level. The EPA declared the grain handling facility at Freeman a Superfund site in 2015.

Union Pacific Railroad Co. is the primary responsible party for the cleanup, the report states. Union Pacific owns the property beneath 11 steel grain silos and bins and a steel grain elevator, as well as an underground receiving pit, and the railroad line that passes through the site.

Ecology has presented two possible cleanup methods for the site: 1) pump-and-treat method, which would be in operation for about 17 years at a cost of $12.7 million; or 2) permeable barrier treatment, which would take 32 years to complete at a cost of $12.6 million.

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