On May 3, 2017, a sheen on the land surface of the shoreline of Flathead Lake in Somers, Montana was reported to EPA. BNSF took water samples and placed absorbent boom and pads where sheen had been observed as a precaution. On May 5, 2017 an EPA On-Scene Coordinator arrived to assess the situation and take additional water samples.
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EPA has made no determinations regarding the source of the sheen observed along parts of the Somers Bay shoreline. The sheen has since dissipated with rapidly rising lake levels. EPA’s data, from samples taken from water pooled along the shoreline, identify generally low levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds, with concentrations of naphthalene and acenaphthene exceeding standards established under the 1989 Superfund Record of Decision for the BN Somers Former Tie Treating site.
While there is no indication of widespread contamination along the shoreline or in the lake that would represent a public health risk, these findings underscore the importance of ongoing efforts at the site. EPA has made no conclusions about potential sources, however, these contaminants are potentially associated with former wood treating activities and known contaminants at the BN Somers site.
EPA and Montana DEQ will continue to work with BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) to assess conditions in the area, including the completion of a feasibility study to evaluate cleanup needs and actions for the site, expected early next year.