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Railway investigates contaminated groundwater at fueling station

By Heather Harrison
New Mexico Business Weekly
March 14, 2002

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has received approval from the New Mexico Environment Department to further investigate soil and groundwater contamination caused by diesel leaks and spills at the railway’s Albuquerque fueling area.

Burlington says diesel released at this facility has contaminated groundwater in excess of the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission standards. The commission is the state water pollution control agency for the state.

The fueling area is located southeast of Downtown Albuquerque between Copper Ave. to the north, Iron Ave. to the south, east of 1st St. and one block west of Broadway Blvd.

Bart Faris, environmental specialist for the New Mexico Environment Department, notes that the railway first noticed a problem back in 1998. Burlington submitted an abatemant plan that year, which included installation of 15 groundwater monitoring wells in the Albuquerque fueling station. Yet Faris, who oversaw the process, says that once the wells were installed, they didn’t accurately measure the problem.

Faris says these plans are standard for a railway like Burlington. He says the railway must abide by commission standards and report any contamination, including diesel leaks, to the department.

Burlington’s two-phase plan is similar to the one it submitted in 1998. It includes additional installation of more groundwater monitoring wells to better target the contamination problem. Stage 2 of the plan includes a proposal for cleaning up the contamination. Burlington will invite public comment on stage 2 of the plan and then send the final version to the department for approval, Faris says.