Central Montana railyard cleanup will remove tainted soil

April 12, 2021 GMT

HARLOWTON, Mont. (AP) — Work is set to begin next week on the cleanup of a historic railyard in central Montana that’s contaminated with asbestos and petroleum.

The cleanup of the Harlowton railyard is part of an attempt to revitalize a 180-acre site in the central Montana town that lost its largest employer after the last train passed through more than 40 years ago.

About 3,000 cubic yards (2,300 cubic meters) of asbestos-tainted soil will be dug up from the railyard site by the end of this month, said Montana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Kevin Stone. The material will be wrapped in plastic and hauled away to a landfill in Great Falls.


Workers will return this fall to remove contaminated soil from a second area that once had a 500,000 gallon (1,900,000-liter) fuel tank. The work is being paid for through grant money and a fund that’s used for contaminated sites for which there is no financially-responsible party.

The city of Harlowton acquired the site involuntarily after the Milwaukee Road railroad went bankrupt in 1979. Plans call for turning the former railroad roundhouse into a community center, restoring a wetlands on the property and creating a recreational trail system.

Previous work included a $2 million remediation of a 5-acre plume of petroleum that came from leaking underground fuel storage tanks.

Additional cleanup work is planned pending a $500,000 federal grant to cover the costs, Stone said.