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EPA issues emergency order to ensure cleanup of Flathead Lake (Mont.) gasoline spill

Release Date: 05/22/2008
Contact Information: Mark Chalfant, 303-312-6177; Wendy Chipp 303 312-6603

(Denver, Colo. -- May 22, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued an administrative order requiring Keller Transport Inc. to clean up contamination resulting from an April 2 tractor trailer spill of 6,380 gallons of gasoline on Highway 35 near Polson, Mont. The location of the spill lies along Flathead Lake within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

"EPA is issuing this order to ensure that Keller Transport follows through and cleans up the contamination associated with this spill," said EPA's assistant regional administrator in Denver, Mike Gaydosh. "Extensive actions remain necessary to fully protect the health of local residents and the renowned aquatic and recreational resources provided by Flathead Lake," added John Wardell, director of EPA's Montana office in Helena.

While response crews have been working in the spill area since April 3, EPA's order will require that all appropriate actions are taken to clean up contaminated soils and water and eliminate hazardous vapors in nearby residences. Actions completed to date have included the installation of monitoring wells, a system to pump and treat contaminated water, and the evacuation and ventilation of several homes impacted by petroleum vapors. Recent sampling indicates that petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene and toluene, have migrated to Flathead Lake. At this time, there is no evidence that the local drinking water supply has been impacted.

EPA's administrative order is issued under authorities established by the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Under the order, Keller Transport must provide EPA with a work plan within 25 days. This plan should specify future cleanup actions and provide a schedule for their completion. EPA may approve, disapprove or modify the work plan as necessary. EPA's oversight of Keller Transport's response actions will ensure that cleanup levels meet tribal and federal regulations.