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Illinois Central Railroad (Johnston Yard)

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: TND073540783
Location: Memphis, Shelby County, TN
Lat/Long: 35.071481, -090.065521
Congressional District: 06
NPL Status: Superfund Alternative Approach
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil
Cleanup Status: Cleanup approach selected
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Industrial - Rail yard operations have continued
Site Manager: Randy Bryant (bryant.randy@epa.gov)


Current Status

The Illinois Central Railroad Company’s Johnston Yard site includes the area where an active rail yard has operated since 1910. EPA did not list the site on the National Priorities List (NPL)but considers it an NPL-caliber site and is addressing the site through the Superfund Alternative Approach. EPA, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. By designing a cleanup plan and cleaning up the site, EPA, TDEC and the site’s PRP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 288-acre site is located in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. The site includes an active rail yard, a locomotive fueling and servicing center and a freight car repair facility. Industrial and commercial businesses border the site to the north, east and west. Residential neighborhoods, which include low-income and minority residents, border the site to the south.

Since 1910, an active rail yard since has operated at the site. An intermodal facility transferring freight from trains to trucks operated on site until 2006. Canadian National purchased the Illinois Central Railroad in 1998 and changed the facility’s name to Canadian National’s Harrison Yard in 2009. Fencing surrounds most of the site.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from facility operations at the site. Contaminants of concern include arseniclead, petroleum products, solvents, pesticides, diesel fuel and related constituents.

Ground water and soil contamination is located within the site boundary. No drinking water wells exist at the site or in the areas next to the site. EPA assessed whether residents or workers might be at risk from harmful ground water vapors in buildings. EPA found that vapor intrusion did not pose a threat to residents and workers.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The site’s PRP leads site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and TDEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2010, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

2010 Proposed Plan Fact Sheet (25pp, 1.51MB, About PDF)

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the ROD.

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Cleanup Progress

In 2007, the site’s PRP dug up contaminated soil from the area intended for a new locomotive repair building. The PRP transported it off site for disposal. The PRP performed soil sampling and a risk assessment before beginning significant work on the tracks. 

Initially, the PRP installed a ground water well skimmer system to recover diesel fuel from below ground. In 2008 and 2009, the PRP tested a mobile, truck-based vacuum system and recovered approximately 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel.  Since then, the PRP has completed the design of the remedy and has performed a series of recovery events using the truck based vacuum system to remove an additional 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel from below ground.  Deed restrictions to limit future use of the Site to industrial or commercial uses have been put in place.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site’s PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

The ROD online provides additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices and public meetings.

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Future Work

The periodic diesel recovery efforts will continue along with groundwater monitoring.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Memphis Shelby County Public Library (Levi Branch)
3676 South Third Street
Memphis, TN  38109 

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