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Congressional District # 06


EPA ID# MND981002249
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The Waite Park Wells site consists of the City of Waite Park, MN, wellfield and two properties which were thought to have 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 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 and was used 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 of waste oil, paint waste, and solvents were disposed of annually 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 third of the Burlington Northern property.  About one-half of the property has been turned over to the City of Waite Park which has sold some parcels for industrial development.  Virtually all Waite Park residences 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 party (PRP) actions.  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.  MPCA manages the site as three State Superfund sites known as Waite Park Wells, Electric Machinery, and Burlington Northern Car Shop.

Threats and Contaminants

The Waite Park municipal wells were contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) at levels above 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 response to the contamination discovered in the Waite Park municipal wells in 1986, MPCA issued an emergency decision to treat contaminants in the water supply using an air stripper.  The responsible parties for the Electric Machinery and Burlington Northern Railroad sites implemented construction of the treatment facility 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 conducts.  Site investigations have determined that the majority of the contamination in the municipal well water resulted from releases from the Electric Machinery site.

EPA signed a remedy decision for groundwater contamination related to the Electric Machinery portion of the site (designated OU1) in 1989. Electric Machinery implemented the groundwater remedy, consisting of a groundwater pump and treat system with discharge of treated water to the Sauk River.  This groundwater pump and treat system was shut down after water quality improvements stabilized.  In 1999, the responsible parties for the Electric Machinery site removed additional sources of contamination and installed a soil vapor extraction system which operated for several years.

EPA signed a remedy decision for contaminated soil for the Burlington Northern Railroad portion of the site in 1994.  Approximately 37,000 cubic yards of PCB and metals-contaminated soils were stabilized, solidified, and placed in an on-site non-RCRA industrial landfill in 1995.  Groundwater monitoring around the containment cell and in the soil removal areas indicated groundwater remediation was not necessary at the railroad portion of the site. 

Currently, the water from old and new Waite Park municipal wells continues to be treated with air strippers to meet drinking water standards.  The former Burlington Northern property is restricted to industrial and commercial uses and monitoring of the containment cell is ongoing. 

The latest Five-Year Review in 2010, in combination with an addendum signed in 2012, documented that remedies for the site are functioning as intended and are protective of human health and the environment in the short-term. Groundwater monitoring suggests that the contaminant plume is being captured by the city wells and is not discharging to the Sauk River. However, the review raised several issues which should be addressed to ensure long-term protection, including the need to determine whether cleanup of residual source materials is needed in order to achieve groundwater cleanup goals.       



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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