Spokane Journal of Business

Parkwater railyard cleanup cleared by Ecology

Soil, water near tracks had been contaminated by petroleum products

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Contamination at a Spokane-area railyard has been resolved, the Washington state Department of Ecology has determined. 

Now, the state agency has proposed lifting groundwater-use restrictions and removing the property from the state’s list of hazardous sites.

The BNSF Parkwater Railyard is at 5302 E. Trent, between Havana and Fancher streets. The 130-acre site, formerly known as Yardley, is situated about a half-mile south of the Spokane River and above the Spokane Valley–Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Erika Beresovoy, Spokane-based public involvement coordinator with Ecology’s Eastern Region office, says no cleanup sites in the Eastern region, such as the Parkwater Railyard, have been removed from the state’s list in the nearly seven years she’s worked for Ecology.

“It’s not often we get to remove these types of sites from the hazardous sites list,” Beresovoy says. “They (typically) get all the way through the cleanup process, but then they sit in the monitoring stage.”

Beresovoy says that when Sandra Treccani, site manager for Ecology’s Eastern Region, was conducting a required five-year review of the site, Treccani realized that the Parkwater site had been cleaned well enough that it met state standards for remediation.

The Parkwater site is an active railyard and has been since the early 1900s. 

Until 1959, the railyard supported operations such as fueling, maintenance, repair, and switching. As previously reported by the Journal, most of the railyard’s refueling operations were moved to BNSF’s facility in Hauser in 2004, and Parkwater since has served as a support fueling facility when demand is high.

The site previously had underground and aboveground storage tanks, primarily for diesel fuel but also for waste oil, gasoline, and cleaning solvent storage. Fourteen above-ground tanks are currently at the site.

A petroleum release was discovered during removal of an underground storage tank in 1990. Upon investigation, the Ecology department found petroleum products in groundwater, and a variety of contaminants were found in soil at the site. 

BNSF was tasked with cleaning up the contamination, a process estimated to cost $1.7 million.

Now, removing the site from Ecology’s list of hazardous sites and lifting groundwater restrictions require both public notice and opportunity for the public to comment.

Ecology will respond to all comments received by June 15 and publish its responses. 

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Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the health care industry. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys traveling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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