Department of Ecology News Release - October 1, 2015

Enforcement order proposed to spur Freeman cleanup
Work at Superfund site will address problems with key water supply

SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Ecology is proposing to order two companies to investigate and study ways to clean up contamination at a federal Superfund site in Spokane County.

Carbon tetrachloride and chloroform were found in soil beneath the Grain Handling Facility at Freeman. The contamination reached several groundwater wells, including the one used by the Freeman School District’s 900 students, teachers and workers.

Currently, the school district’s water supply is being treated and is safe to drink. Now, a long-term fix is being sought without making the school district spend its limited resources.

Ecology welcomes public comments through Nov. 2 on its enforcement order. The order would require the site’s potentially liable parties, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Cenex Harvest States Inc. (CHS), to investigate the contamination and study ways to clean it up.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added the Freeman School property to the Superfund National Priorities List. CHS operates a grain-handling facility on land owned by UPRR across Highway 27 from the Freeman School.

Ecology is leading the actual cleanup effort. Ecology tried to negotiate a legal agreement with the companies, but the companies chose to not participate in negotiations or sign an agreement. Ecology is proposing to issue an enforcement order to move the cleanup process forward.

Carbon tetrachloride is a man-made chemical that was widely used as an agricultural pesticide and a fumigant to kill insects and rodents in grain-storage facilities. Other uses included making refrigerants and propellants for aerosol cans, and degreasing metals. The EPA banned most uses, including for agriculture, in 1985.

Comments are welcome on the enforcement order, scope of work, public participation plan, and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist and Determination of Non-Significance (DNS).

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Brook Beeler, communications, 509-329-3478 @ecyspokane