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Instructor Fact Sheet: Information Highlights on the Flowing Railroad Site

FRR Enterprises is the parent company that owns Flow Automations (currently operating) and the Flowing Railroad (no longer operating).

The Flowing Railroad site is an inactive train yard where locomotives were repaired and maintained.

The Flowing River borders the site to the east. It supplies fish that nearby families eat 3 to 4 times a week and feeds the aquifer that supplies drinking water and irrigation to homes, businesses, and farms (municipal wells and the irrigation intake are 3 miles downstream from the site).

8,000 people live within 1 mile of the site and 1,400 people live within 1/4 mile.

Contaminants identified by EPA sampling include:

  • Lead, zinc, and copper wastes, which result from building locomotive cars;
  • PCBs, which can be released if electric power transformers are punctured; and
  • TCE, a volatile organic compound, probably used to degrease and clean locomotive parts.

The potential for contamination of the Flowing River and other surface water and groundwater (e.g., the aquifer) could be increased by rain and melting snow washing through contaminated areas.

Samples from a shallow well drilled at the site contained lead and a high concentration of TCE, but the actual extent of the contamination is unknown. The soils in a few areas of the site have been contaminated; full tests of the soil have not been conducted.

Community concerns include:

  • Potential release of asbestos, which could contaminate the air
  • Peculiar, noxious odor from drinking water faucets in Ruralville
  • Possible health impacts for people who regularly eat potentially contaminated fish
  • Potential impacts on the health of people who breathe in TCE fumes
  • Reported increase in the number of cancer cases in the surrounding areas
  • Potential environmental and economic impacts on soil and crops contaminated by irrigation water
  • Future use of the site property
  • Potential economic impacts on Ruralville if FRR Enterprises had to lay off workers or close Flow Automations if the company cannot afford the cleanup costs.

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