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Congressional District # 06


EPA ID# MND981002249
Last Updated: November, 2011

Site Description

The Waite Park Wells site consists of the city of Waite Park wellfield and two properties which contributed contaminants to groundwater at the wellfield.  The municipal wellfield is located on a property which was used for a Burlington Northern railroad car maintenance facility.  An adjacent property was the site of the Electric Machinery Manufacturing Company.  The Electric Machinery property is 45 acres in size and located in the city of St. Cloud. The property was the site of a gas turbine and electric generator manufacturing facility from 1969 to 1977.  Waste solvents generated at the facility were discharged into the soil and groundwater.  The Burlington Northern property covers 202 acres in the city of Waite Park.  The Burlington Northern property was used as car shop for maintenance, repair, and construction of railroad cars and other types of freight equipment beginning in about 1894.  From 1950 to 1970, about 10,000 gallons annually of waste oil, paint waste, and solvents were disposed of at the property.

Two city of Waite Park water supply wells were located on the Burlington Northern property in 1963; currently, the wellfield consists of four wells.  The Electric Machinery property is being used for industrial purposes and is surrounded by industrial and commericial properties.  The Burlington Northern property is used for a mixture of industrial and commercial purposes, with commercial properties and residences to the south. The Waite Park Wells and water supply treatment plant are located in the eastern one-third of the Burlington Northern property. About one-half of the property has been turned over to Waite Park which has sold some other parcels for industrial development.  Approximately 6,700 people reside in Waite Park, and virtually all are served by the municipal water system.  The adjacent Sauk River joins the Mississippi River two miles from the site.   

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through state, municipal, and potentially responsible parties' actions.  Potentially responsible parties are parties EPA has determined may be legally responsible for the site's contamination. The site is part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Deferral Pilot Agreement with the state of Minnesota and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is the lead agency managing cleanup at the site.

Threats and Contaminants

The Waite Park municipal wells are contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) at levels above the recommended drinking water criteria.  Remedial investigations indicated the presence of free petroleum product above the water table; elevated levels of lead and other heavy metals in surface soils; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil and groundwater; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater. 

Cleanup Progress

In March 1986, as a result of emergency actions in response to the contamination discovered in the Waite Park municipal wells, MPCA issued a decision that the long-term water supply response action was to treat the water supply using an air stripper.  In response to state enforcement documents, the responsible parties for the Electric Machinery and Burlington Northern Railroad sites implemented construction of the response action and, by agreement with the city of Waite Park, funded advanced water treatment in lieu of future operation and maintenance, which the city of Waite Park funds and conducts.  Site investigations have determined that the majority of the contamination in the municipal well water resulted from releases from the Electric Machinery site.

A Record of Decision (ROD) documenting the selected cleanup for the contaminated groundwater was issued on January 5, 1989.  In 1989, Electric Machinery implemented the groundwater remedy, consisting of groundwater pumping and a treatment at a packed tower aeration system with discharge of treated water to the Sauk River.  The groundwater pumping is currently shut down while groundwater quality is evaluated under static conditions.  On July 15, 1994, a ROD documenting the selected cleanup for contaminated soil and groundwater monitoring was issued for the  Burlington Northern Railroad portion of the site.  Approximately 37,000 cubic yards of PCB and metal-contaminated soils were stabilized, solidified, and placed in an on-site non-RCRA industrial landfill in 1995.  All other RA work was completed.  Groundwater monitoring around the containment cell and in the soil removal areas indicated groundwater remediation was not necessary.

MPCA completed a Five-Year Review of the site remedial actions in 1994.  In 1999, the responsible parties for the Electric Machinery site voluntarily implemented further source removal and a soil vapor extraction system.  MPCA completed a second Five-Year Review in February 2000, which resulted in additional actions by the PRPs.  The water from old and new Waite Park municipal wells continues to be treated with air strippers.  The old BN property is restricted to industrial uses; additional contaminated soil is being excavated and stabilized or removed as redevelopment occurs.  Monitoring of the containment cell and remedial actions is ongoing at the Burlington Northern site.

Five-Year Reviews were also conducted at the site in 2005 and 2010.  The latest Five-Year Review (2010) documented that remedies for the wellfield and Burlington Northern portion of the site are functioning properly and are protective of human health and the environment in the short term.  Long-term protection will be assured by placing institutional controls on the properties and by maintaining the groundwater treatment system.  For the Electric Machinery portion of the site, the 2010 Five-Year Review report recommended the further investigation of potential vapor intrusion risks for a businesses operating on the property.  Efforts to implement this recommendation are underway by MPCA.




Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
leah evison (evison.leah@epa.gov)
(312) 886-2064

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
cheryl allen
(312) 353-6196

Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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