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UPRR - North Dunsmuir Site

Site Contact:
Tara Fitzgerald
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
5750 Sacramento Ave
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

Incident Background

The Dunsmuir Railyard has operated since the early 1900s. Prior to 1955, the facility (then operated by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company) was equipped with a steel tank with a capacity of 2.3 million gallons. The tank held Bunker C fuel to power steam locomotives. It was replaced by a 200,000-gallon diesel tank in 1955. Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) acquired the property in 1996. UPRR transitioned away from fuel storage and fueling operations at the site and by 2003, most of these activities had ceased.

Unknown amounts of Bunker C and diesel fuels have seeped into the soil, groundwater, and Upper Sacramento River. Several attempts have been made over the last century to stop contamination from migrating into the river. Current response activities stem from a citizen report of oil along the riverbank near the facility in 2018. Since then, environmental response actions have included:

  • Additional site investigation to support design and implementation of site cleanup activities
  • Excavation of impacted material along the surface of the riverbank and partial riverbank restoration
  • Installation of oil barriers in the river and along sections of the concrete walkway adjacent to the river
  • Installation of containment boom in the river

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order to address site-wide contamination and discharge. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Clean Water Act (CWA) Order to UPRR requiring response actions to remove the discharge or to mitigate or prevent the substantial threat of a discharge of oil.

Current Status

A Unified Command (UC) consisting of the EPA, RWQCB, California Department of Fish and Wildlife-Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR), and UPRR has been formed and will be coordinating on the site cleanup and restoration project.

The project is beginning in mid-July 2022 and due to seasonal work limitations, extend into 2023. EPA is the lead oversight agency for the following planned response actions:

  • Removal of retaining walls and the adjacent walkway
  • Excavation of oil-impacted soil along 1,000 feet of shoreline
  • Riverbank restoration along the shoreline to increase river capacity and create additional habitat for birds and fish
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Impacts

CDFW-OSPR has monitored the waterway since 2018 and has not observed impacts to wildlife. Additionally, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) assessed the river and recommended (as recently as May 2022) that the fishery remain open, after concluding that the situation did not reach the threshold of being a threat to public health.

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not attempt to capture it. Instead, please report observations of oiled wildlife to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) hotline at 1-877-UCD- OWCN (1-800-823-6926).


Media inquiries can be directed to CDFW-OSPR Public Information Officer, Eric Laughlin, at (916) 214-3279. More information will be shared when it becomes available.

Cal Spill Watch

More information on this project can be found at CDFW OSPR’s Cal Spill Watch site, https://calspillwatch.wildlife.ca.gov/.