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Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Brown and Bryant Superfund Cleanup/ Funds will be used to replace Arvin drinking water well

Release Date: 02/04/2009
Contact Information: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270,

(SAN FRANCISCO -- 2/4/2009) In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settlement announced today, the Union Pacific Railroad Company and BNSF Railway Company agreed to pay a total of $985,000 in cleanup costs at the Brown & Bryant Superfund site in Arvin, Calif., located at 600 South Derby Road.

    The settlement funds will be used to relocate Arvin City Well No. 1, a drinking water well. As part of the cleanup remedy, the city well is being relocated as a precautionary measure because of its down gradient proximity to the site. The well has been tested and is not currently contaminated.

    "This action is a safeguard to ensure that the people who rely on Arvin’s water system will continue to receive clean, safe drinking water,” said Keith Takata, the Superfund Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The current well is not a problem right now, but the new well will be in a better, more protective location.”

    Presently, the well is situated in a location approximately 1500 feet from the Superfund site, in a direct pathway of slow moving contaminants migrating from the site. The City of Arvin tests the well monthly to ensure it meets safe drinking water standards, and the EPA tests the well periodically to look for site contaminants.

    The EPA is currently in the design phase of the project and is working with the Arvin Community Services District to determine a location for placement of the new city well.

    Recent site history

    Union Pacific Railroad Company and BNSF Railway Company leased land that they owned to Brown & Bryant Inc., which operated an agricultural chemicals facility at the site. A third potentially responsible party, Shell Oil Company, which supplied some of the pesticides to the site, chose not to participate in this settlement agreement.

    A trial court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with EPA that both railroads are liable as owners of the site and that Shell Oil Company is liable as an arranger of disposal of hazardous substances, in light of its knowledge that spills were routine in deliveries controlled by Shell.

    On February 24, the Supreme Court will hold a hearing reviewing this decision. This settlement agreement will proceed independently from the Supreme Court review of pending litigation involving both railroads named above and Shell Oil Company for the Brown & Bryant site.

    Additional Background Information

    Brown & Bryant Inc. formulated agricultural chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, fumigants, and fertilizers at the site from 1960 to 1989. In 1981, the site was licensed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as a hazardous waste transporter. Contamination of soil and groundwater resulted from inadequate procedural controls, chemical spills during operations, and leaks from a surface wastewater pond and sumps.

    In 1989, the site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List. Subsequently, a series of removal actions were initiated to clear contaminants from surface soils which posed the most immediate threat to human health. The site is currently vacant. A warehouse, an open metal shed, and an above-ground storage tank are on the site. The property is secured by a chain-link fence and paved with asphalt. The EPA is also currently in the process of planning for the removal of the above-ground storage tank from the site.

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