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Region 8

Baxter/Union Pacific Tie Treating

National Priorities List (NPL) History

Proposed Date

Final Date

Deletion Date

Construction Completion Date

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Baxter/Union Pacific Tie Treating site location map Site Type: Deleted NPL
City: Laramie
County: Albany
Street Address: 2763 Ft. Sanders Dr.
ZIP Code: 82070
EPA ID: WYD061112470
SSID: 0816
Congressional District: At Large


What's New?

This narrative is no longer updated because the cleanup is now administered by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) under a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action (May 2003). A fact sheet about the site is available on this WDEQ Web page. Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Site Description

The Union Pacific Railroad's 140-acre tie-treating facility is about a quarter mile south of Laramie, Wyoming, along the Laramie River. The railroad used the site for wood-preserving operations for nearly 100 years. The railroad and its contractor applied creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) to railroad ties to protect them from weathering. During this time, wood treating chemicals were spilled and disposed of on the site, contaminating soil and groundwater.

In 1983, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the site on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) for cleanup. The company agreed to isolate the wastes and treat groundwater so that the contamination would not spread. Among the cleanup actions were realignment of the Laramie River to reduce the chance of contamination and construction of an underground slurry wall to isolate the wastes and prevent the spread of contamination. Additional work to remove and isolate the sources of contamination will be completed by 2005.

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Site Risk

For nearly 100 years, railroad ties were treated with various chemicals at the Baxter/Union Pacific Tie-Treating site south of Laramie. Over time, chemicals were spilled on the ground and leached down into groundwater. Also, for about 70 years, workers disposed of wood-treating wastes in storage ponds at the site. Groundwater was contaminated beneath some 90 acres of the site.

No one is drinking contaminated groundwater. The Laramie water supply is not affected. WDEQ, which regulates the cleanup under RCRA, set ongoing cleanup requirements.

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
groundwater pentachlorophenol, benzene, naphthalene, toluene, phenol railroad tie-treatment site


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Cleanup Progress

Because the railroad operated the site under a RCRA permit, the site is also subject to RCRA corrective action cleanup requirements. In 1988, EPA and the company agreed on requirements for continuing site management under RCRA. In 1999, the Agency removed the site from the NPL.

The cleanup remedy required by WDEQ includes:

  • Continued operation of a Contaminant Isolation System to keep contaminants on site.
  • A water-treatment plant and three wells to remove contamination.
  • Continued removal of dense oily liquids from groundwater.
  • Removal of contaminated debris and soil.
  • A topsoil cover on surface soils to prevent any exposure to remaining low-level soil contamination.
  • Continued monitoring of the test plots treating soils and debris through phytoremediation (use of native plants).
  • Continued monitoring of the Integrated Phytoremediation/Greenbelt Project tied in with a recreational trail from Optimist Park to the UPRR site.

The greenbelt was opened to the public in 2001, ahead of schedule. It includes a park, bike path and walkway linked to another park along the Laramie River. A portion of the original site is maintained for industrial use with restricted-access controls. Union Pacific bought the former Boyd property and filed a restrictive covenant to prevent installation of groundwater wells on the site.

WDEQ determines that construction of all remedies is complete. Potential risks to wildlife are monitored. The final remedy is protective of human health and the environment. It will be reviewed under RCRA by WDEQ every five years.

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Community Involvement

Public involvement was a key element in deciding how to reduce risks posed by heavily contaminated portions of the site. Returning a site this size to its original condition was not technically practical. By involving the community throughout the process, EPA and WDEQ were able to develop a workable cleanup plan acceptable to the community.

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Site Documents

Federal Register Notice of Deletion from the NPL, December 6, 1999

Record of Decision, September 26, 1986 (PDF, 23 pp, 50K, about PDF files)

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Tom Aalto
Environmental Scientist
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (8P-W-GW)
Denver, CO 80202-1129
800-227-7917 ext. 312-6949 (toll free Region 8 only)


Lily R. Barkau
Senior Project Manager
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
Herschler Building 4-W
122 West 25th Street
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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