By Ron VandenBoom
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will begin a 60-day public comment period April 16 on the November 2000 Final Draft Remedial Investigation Report (RI) on the BNSF Fueling Facility in Havre.
The comment period will end June 14, 2001 at 5 p.m.
A public meeting will also be held on or before Thursday, May 24, 2001, The date and time of the meeting will be announced in the Havre Daily News as soon as word is received from DEQ.
The three-volumes, each about five inches thick, include information collected during field investigations conducted by the BNSF and reviewed by the DEQ over the last 12 years. It includes a DEQ review and comment of the Draft RI report, BNSF revisions to the Drift RI report in response to DEQ's comments, and resubmittal of the Final Draft RI report.
The volumes are available for public inspection at the Hill County Library and at the office of the Hill County Sanitarian, Clay Vincent in the Hill County Courthouse.
"The purpose of the report is to establish the nature and extent of contamination," said Doug Martin, project officer for the DEQ.
The report is one step in a process that will at last finalize DEQ's and BNSF's view of the extent and degree of contamination at the Havre site.
The concerns will be reviewed for inclusion into the final report, Martin said.
The findings in the report include a summery of ongoing investigations and testing that has been conducted in North Havre, on railroad property, and on the south side of railroad property along First Street and between Second Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
Martin cautioned during a previous interview, that while the RI will include everything the DEQ and BNSF has learned about the Havre site up to now, sites like Havre are "dynamic" or always changing.
"If we learn something new has happened after the RI is issued, we can still deal with that by adding an addendum to it," he said.
The finalized RI will signal the beginning of work on a feasibility study that looks at alternatives to cleanup. It will consider all aspects of cleanup including cost, danger to human health and environment, practicality, use of treatment and resource effectiveness.
Martin would not speculate about how long it might take to complete the RI process and the feasibility study saying only that it is part of the nature of Superfund sites that a lot of lawyers become involved and issues involving the state of Montana are also having to be considered.
The DEQ continues to collect and monitor water samples from wells in North Havre's residential area on a quarterly basis.
Product recovery wells also continue pumping diesel from the ground. So far about 174,366 gallons of diesel fuel have been recovered by BNSF and according to BNSF and DEQ reports. The recovered diesel is shipped off-site for recycling.
Estimates given by Martin at a public meeting in 1998 claim that there could be anywhere from 500,000 - 1.5 million gallons of fuel within the contaminated area.
For more information or for anyone wanting to comment in writing, contact Doug Martin at the Department of Environmental Quality, Remediation Division, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, 59620-0901.
Martin can also be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.