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Congressional District # 06


EPA ID# MND981002249
Last Updated: May, 2015

Site Description

The Waite Park Wells site consists of a contaminated groundwater plume that impacted the City of Waite Park, MN, municipal drinking water wells. The plume also impacted adjacent properties thought to be the source of that contamination. The adjacent properties include one owned by the former Electric Machinery Manufacturing Company, located in the City of St. Cloud, and one owned by the former Burlington Northern Railroad Company, located in the City of Waite Park. The former 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 former 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, 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.  The well field has since been expanded to four wells.  Most of the former Burlington Northern property was transferred to the City of Waite Park and redeveloped for recreational and commercial purposes. The former Electric Machinery property is being used for industrial purposes and is surrounded by industrial and commericial properties.  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.  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 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 constructed a 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. MPCA determined that the contamination in the municipal well water resulted primarily from releases at the Electric Machinery site.

MPCA, with the concurrence of EPA, signed a remedy decision to address groundwater contamination related to the Electric Machinery portion of the site (designated OU1) in 1989.  Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) implemented the 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 stopped improving. In 1999, the PRPs removed additional sources of contamination and installed a pilot scale soil vapor extraction system which operated from 2000 to 2002. 

Beginning in 1988, the PRP for the Burlington Northern portion of the site removed sand blast sands and storage tanks, along with thermally treated soil, under the oversight of MPCA. In 1994, MPCA signed a remedy decision to address this portion of the site.  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 this portion of the site. 

Currently, Waite Park municipal drinking water continues to be treated to remove volatile organic compounds.  The former Electric Machinery, and most of the former Burlington Northern, properties are restricted to industrial and commercial uses, and monitoring of the containment cell is ongoing. 

The latest Five-Year Review, conducted in 2015, documented that the protectiveness of the remedy at the former Electric Machinery portion of the site could not be determined until additional investigation of the vapor intrusion pathway is performed. The review also made recommendations concerning implementation of the groundwater remedy. The review documented that the remedy for the former Burlington Northern portion of the site is protective in the short-term, but several recommendations must be implemented before the remedy can be considered protective in the long-term.

Property Reuse

After the cleanup, Burlington Northern transferred ownership of 126 acres of the site to the City of Waite Park. The City has transformed part of the area into the 42 acre River’s Edge Park. The park features baseball and softball fields, a batting cage, ice hockey and figure skating rinks, picnic tables, a concession stand, fishing access to the Sauk River, and parking. Redevelopment has also taken place at another section of the site that includes a warehouse, restaurant and office buildings within the West River Business Park. A foundry and parts casting business continues to use the former Electric Machinery building on site. The City of Waite Park’s wells and water treatment plant continue to operate on a portion of the site.


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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