Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


U.S. EPA passes baton to Nevada to oversee environmental cleanup of old rail yard

Release Date: 8/25/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, 415/947-4227 (

More than 400,000 gallons of solvent, fuel already removed from Sparks site

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than a decade of work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has transferred the responsibility for overseeing the environmental cleanup of a large railyard in Sparks, Nev. to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

To date, the Vista Canyon Group, under orders from the EPA and NDEP, has removed more than 400,000 gallons of solvent and fuels from the soil and groundwater. State-of-the-art treatment systems have been installed to monitor and remove the remaining contamination and extensive sampling is conducted monthly.

The 130-acre site, which also includes a fuel storage and distribution terminal, is located in southeastern Sparks near Highway 80. The railyard was used to refuel and maintain trains until the 1950s. These activities led to contamination of the groundwater and soil with pollutants that included gasoline, chlorinated solvents and diesel fuels.

The Vista Canyon Group, which is comprised of eight separate companies responsible in some form for the contamination on the property, recently agreed to pay all of the EPA's costs incurred to date in overseeing the cleanup of the site, as well as all future costs necessary. The state's cleanup work is expected to continue for at least the next 10 years.

For the past 13 years, the EPA and NDEP have worked together to address the contamination. After the NDEP discovered the problem in the late 1980s, both agencies independently ordered the companies to investigate and clean up the contamination.

Since 1991, the Vista Canyon Group -- which includes Berry-Hinkley Terminal, Inc.; Chevron USA, Inc.; Equilon Enterprises LLC; Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P.; Union Pacific Railroad Company; Time Oil Company; and Union Oil Company (UNOCAL) -- has reimbursed the EPA for more than $1 million of the agency's oversight costs.

"This effort constitutes a great example of how federal and state agencies can work in concert to provide a safer, cleaner environment for all Nevadans," said Keith Takata, director of the EPA's Superfund division in San Francisco. "We are confident that the state will provide the oversight necessary to finish cleaning up this site."

"Working together with EPA, the city of Sparks and the Vista Canyon Group, we have turned an environmental liability into a positive focal point for the community," said Leo Drozdoff, acting administrator for the NDEP. "Nevada is committed and will continue these efforts for the protection of this vital resource and the health and well being of the residents and visitors to the area."