Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ Home/ Land Quality/ Environmental Cleanup/ ECSI/ Site Summary

Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 54, UPRR Tie Treating Plant - The Dalles

This report shows data entered as of August 8, 2022 at 7:25:26 PM

This report contains site details, organized into the following sections: 1) Site Photos (appears only if the site has photos); 2) General Site Information; 3) Site Characteristics; 4) Substance Contamination Information; 5) Investigative, Remedial and Administrative Actions; and 6) Site Environmental Controls (i.e., institutional or engineering controls; appears only if DEQ has applied one or more such controls to the site).  A key to certain acronyms and terms used in the report appears at the bottom of the page.

Note: DEQ may have posted online documents related to this site. If so, they would be available for viewing or downloading on ECSI Summary Page

Go to DEQ's Facility Profiler to see a site map as well is information on what other DEQ programs may be active at this site.

Environmental Cleanup Site Information (ECSI) Database Site Summary Report - Details for Site ID 54, UPRR Tie Treating Plant - The Dalles

General Site Information

Site ID: 54 Site Name: UPRR Tie Treating Plant - The Dalles CERCLIS No: 009049412
Address: Tie Plant Rd. The Dalles 97058
  County: Wasco Region: Eastern
Other location information: (Additional T/R/S data: 1N/13E/2AC, DA/DB, BC/BD, CA/CB.)
Investigation Status: Listed on CRL or Inventory
Brownfield Site: No NPL Site: Yes Orphan Site: No Study Area: No
Property: Twnshp/Range/Sect: 1N , 13E , 2 Tax Lots: 300
  Latitude: 45.5985 deg. Longitude: -121.1511 deg.  Site Size: 83 acres
Other Site Names:
  JH Baxter & Co. - The Dalles
  Kerr-McGee - The Dalles
  Union Pacific RR - The Dalles Sediment Unit
  Union Pacific Railroad - Tie Treating Plant
  American Ties
  UPRR - The Dalles
  AmeriTies West, LLC

Site Characteristics

General Site Description:
Site History:
Contamination Information: (4/30/2003 WCW/SRS) The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) tie-treating plant treated wood with a variety of compounds, including ammoniacal copper arsenate, creosote, a creosote/fuel oil mixture, and pentachlorophenol. DEQ's Water Quality Division began investigating the site in 1984. Creosote components, pentachlorophenol, fuel oil, ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and arsenic were found in soil and groundwater near the plant. Contamination was also found in soils and sediments in Riverfront Park and along the shoreline of the Columbia River to the north of the plant. (This latter contamination is believed to have come from a US Army Corps of Engineers' underground pipe that carried storm water runoff from the plant to the river from 1937 to 1971). In May 1989, UPRR entered into a consent agreement with DEQ's Environmental Cleanup Division to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the site. (A separate RI/FS was later conducted for the Riverfront Park/Columbia River sediments unit). EPA listed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in August 1990, but DEQ remains the lead agency for the project.
Manner and Time of Release: Past operating practices, including discharge of wastewaters to unlined ponds, other on-site disposal, spills, and uncontrolled drippage. Also, discharge of contaminated storm water via Corps of Engineers' pipeline to Riverfront Park and to the Columbia River. Time of release: Between 1926 and early 1980s.
Hazardous Substances/Waste Types: Wood treatment chemicals, including creosote, pentachlorophenol (PCP), and arsenic; benzene, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Pathways: Contaminants have been found in groundwater downgradient from the site (i.e., beneath Riverfront Park). No active wells are known to exist between the plant and the Columbia River, although the City of The Dalles has a backup well near the site. That well is upgradient and has not been affected. Contamination has been detected in Columbia River sediments, but not in the river water. An area of contaminated soil was found in Riverfront Park, but it was cleaned up in 1992. The contaminated river sediments were capped in February and March 1995.
Environmental/Health Threats: Soil and groundwater at the site, and shallow groundwater beneath Riverfront Park, are contaminated. There is also a potential threat to the City of The Dalles' back-up water supply well. Contaminated soil in Riverfront Park has been removed to protective concentrations. Contaminated Columbia River sediment has been covered with a protective cap.
Status of Investigative or Remedial Action: (4/30/2003 WCW/SRS) The Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was completed in 1995. During the RI/FS, UPRR conducted two interim cleanup actions. In September and October 1992, approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed from Riverfront Park. In February and March 1995, a multi-layered cap was constructed along the Columbia River shoreline to contain contaminated sediments. DEQ issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in March 1996. The approved cleanup involves extracting and treating contaminated groundwater, recovering creosote from the groundwater, and hydraulically containing the groundwater. Cleanup of contaminated soils was deferred, because the plant is still operational and there is no current potential exposure risk due to engineering controls. However, several localized soil cleanups have occurred when contaminated soil was exposed during current wood treatment operations.

In June 1997, DEQ approved a RD/RA work plan and Groundwater Remedial Action Plan (GRAP). and construction of Module 1 and hydraulic containment system began. Early in 1998 the waste water treatment plant was expanded. Module 1 began limited operations in April 1999 and went to full scale operation during October 1999. Various modifications to Module 1 DNAPL recovery system, wastewater treatment system and discharge, deferred soils remedy, and general site-wide monitoring have been approved by DEQ since the Record-of-Decision (March 1996). These modifications do not substantively alter the remedy identified in the ROD.

The hydraulic containment system began operating in February 1998, followed by the creosote recovery system a year later. Injected water is used to push creosote to extraction wells, where the oil and water are removed and processed through a Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). After processing, the water is reinjected into the subsurface, continuing the process of oil removal. Groundwater is monitored twice a year, and the system is currently under a five-year review.

(7/29/04 WCW/SRS) The first five-year review of the ROD was completed by DEQ and submitted to Region 10 USEPA on February 28, 2002. This review concluded that the implemented remedial actions defined by the 1996 ROD were still protective.

On February 14, 2003, DEQ received a report titled: Design Basis Report for the Module 2/3 DNAPL Recovery System. During 2003 and culminating in late December 2003, UPRR constructed Module 2/3. Startup of Module 2/3 began in February 2004 and continued throughout the Summer of 2004. All three (3) modules for DNAPL source zone recovery are operating at full scale.

On May 12, 2004, DEQ conducted a pre-final inspection of Module 2/3 systems, and concluded that the groundwater remedy was fully constructed. On July 28, 2004, DEQ submitted a Preliminary Close Out Report (PCOR) to Region 10 USEPA for the purpose of obtaining a Construction Completion milestone.

The first 5-Year Review of the ROD was completed by DEQ and submitted to Region 10 USEPA on February 28, 2002. This review concluded that the implemented remedial actions defined by the 1996 ROD were still protective.

A second 5-year periodic review of ROD protectiveness was submitted to EPA on January 4, 2008. This review concluded that the ROD was protective of human health and the environment.

UPRR reached the end point shutdown criteria for Module 1 during April 2010. Module 1 had recovered DNAPL product during a twelve year period prior to shutdown upon meeting the 95% cumulative maximum potential recoverable DNAPL criterion, where the maximum was defined as the asymptote of the cumulative production curve. Specifically, a rapid decline in DNAPL recovery from about 2.5 gallons per day in August 2006 declined to less than 0.5 gal/day in 2010. In contrast, the DNAPL recovery rate peaked in 2000 at 7 gal/day. The rapid, pulsed decline in DNAPL recovery at Module 1 is believed to be related to truncation of DNAPL flow paths in fracture systems in Columbia River Basalts (CRBs).

In addition, the onsite waste water treatment plant underwent major reconfiguration during the Fall 2010. Description of this WWTP modification included the following: 1] Replacement of the oil water separator to prevent air contact and reduce iron precipitation; 2] Expansion of the number of carbon beds to increase organic loading prior to breakthrough; and, 3] Allowance for future bypass of the arsenic treatment system.

(3/4/2011 WCW) DEQ required a minimum one year post-shutdown monitoring of Module 1 extraction wells. Based upon DEQ review of site data, DEQ authorized (3/3/2011) permanent decommissioning of Module 1 wells, piping, and other tangibles

(7/10/2012 WCW/SRS) On April 20, 2012 DEQ submitted to EPA a report titled "Third Five Year Record of Decision Review Report", which includes protectiveness statements for both OU1 and OU2. The remedy implementation phase has operated for 9 years and various remedial systems have been modified for operational optimization. DEQ concurred that Module 1 had met its shut-down criteria during June 2010. Module 2/3 of the DNAPL recovery system is currently operating. As reported in the Third 5-Year periodic review, a total of 101,082 gallons of DNAPL creosote oil have been recovered from the inception of DNAPL removal through June 2011.

(3/31/17 KJR/SRS) DNAPL continues to be extracted from the three DNAPL extraction systems active at the site: the hydraulic containment system (HCS), Module 2/3, and MW-13 (230). A total of 120,764 gallons have been recovered from the inception of DNAPL removal through June 2016. The DNAPL recovery system Module 1 removed 12,403 gallons of creosoting oils before being abandoned, Module 2/3 has removed 50,499 gallons of DNAPL since startup in February 2004, and 57,862 gallons of DNAPL have been recovered from the HCS wells. An additional 6,482 gallons of DNAPL have been recovered from MW-13(230) since 1990.

The 4th five year ROD review was completed in 2016.

On July 6, 2021, Unit 2 and extraction well EX-23 (unit 3) were shut down due to the fact that continued operations reduced the effectiveness of Module 2/3 Units 1 and Unit 3 operations. Rebound monitoring will commence for a 1-year period post shut down.

The 5th five-year ROD review was completed in March 2022. Module 2/3 will be phased out as recovery rates approach asympptotic slopes. Shut down of Module 2/3 will occur after 95% of recoverable DNAPL has been extracted from the site. Extraction wells recovering little to none DNAPL may be shut down before the module.
Data Sources:

Substance Contamination Information

Substance Media Contaminated Concentration Level Date Recorded
ARSENIC Groundwater 1210 ppb  
ARSENIC Sediment  
ARSENIC Soil 552 ppm  
BENZENE Groundwater 120 ppb  
BENZO(a)ANTHRACENE Groundwater 1500 ppb  
BENZO(a)ANTHRACENE Soil 550 ppm  
CHRYSENE Groundwater 1900 ppb  
CHRYSENE Soil 580 ppm  
NAPHTHALENE Groundwater 18000 ppb  
NAPHTHALENE Soil 12636 ppm  
PENTACHLOROPHENOL Groundwater 900 ppb  
TOLUENE Groundwater 270 ppb  
XYLENEs Groundwater 185 ppb  

Investigative, Remedial and Administrative Actions

Action Start Date Compl. Date Resp. Staff Lead Pgm
RECORD OF DECISION  (Primary Action) 12/14/2021 03/09/2022 Alyssa Leidel VCP
View Full Report Showing Action History

Site Environmental Controls

Control Description Begin Date End Date Last Reviewed By Last Review Date
Contamination left in place, sediment or sludge 07/01/1995   D. Crouse, DEQ 03/11/2011
  Comments: Capping an area of contaminated sediments in the Columbia River adjacent to the site.

Key to Certain Acronyms and Terms in this Report:

You may be able to obtain more information about this site by contacting Alyssa Leidel at the Eastern regional office or via email at If this does not work, you may contact Ximena Cruz Cuevas (503) 229-6811, or via email at or contact the Eastern regional office.