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Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter Plant)

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Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Cheryl Allen (allen.cheryl@epa.gov)
312-353-6196 or 800-621-8431, ext. 36196

Remedial Project Manager
Leah Evison
(651) 757-2898

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Kurt Schroeder (kurt.schroeder@state.mn.us)
(651) 757-2703


(where to view written records)

Not available at this time


Northern Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Railroad operated a railroad tie treatment facility at the site from about 1907 to 1986.  During part of this time, pollutants were released to soil and groundwater, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds.  The Burlington Northern (Brainerd/Baxter Plant) Superfund Site was added to EPA’s National Priorities List in 1983.  Following an agreement between EPA, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Burlington Northern Railroad, the railroad company removed large quantities of wastewater and sludge from lagoons and excavated large volumes of contaminated soil.  A soil treatment unit operated for several years and the treated spoils were then capped.  The railroad company constructed a pump-out system for contaminated groundwater in 1985 and in 1992 added a new groundwater treatment system called air sparging.  Rather than pumping groundwater, this system pumps air which captures pollutants from the groundwater. 

Site Updates || Technical Documents || Five-Year Reviews || Legal Agreements

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Site Updates

January 2013

Currently, the groundwater treatment system continues to operate and has successfully lowered pollutant levels in much of the plume to below drinking water standards.  Groundwater is monitored regularly though a series of monitoring wells and the capped unit is also inspected regularly. A review of the cleanup progress conducted in 2011 concluded that the cleanup protects people in the short-term, but the review also raised a number of questions about long-term protection. 

On December 18, 2012, EPA and BNSF Railway Company signed a new agreement for cooperation at the site.  The agreement requires BNSF, with EPA’s oversight, to evaluate the extent of soil and groundwater contamination that remains at the site and assess the best cleanup methods for that contamination.  The agreement also requires BNSF to re-examine the former soil treatment unit.  It is important to note EPA has not found any particular problem with previous cleanup work that threatens public health or the environment. Rather, the Agency wants BNSF to study these issues and ensure people and wildlife are shielded long-term from exposure to pollution.

Technical Documents

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Five-Year Reviews

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Legal Agreements

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