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Plummer Pole Yard

Site Contact:
Stephen Ball
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
Plummer, ID 83851

Site Overview

The site is located near the center of the city of Plummer in Benewah County, Idaho. The site is land that was historically used for wood treating operations. On the east side of the site and to the north of Pole Yard Road is a structure that was identified by City of Plummer representatives during a site visit as a former wood pole treating building and to the northwest of this building is a partially intact concrete aboveground structure believe to be related to historic wood treating operations.

Site History

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Union Pacific Railroad leased a portion of the site set aside for a railroad depot to support a variety of industrial wood products operators that conducted activities such as pole peeling and wood utility pole treating. It is suspected that the wooden poles were treated with a chemical mixture of creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) in diesel. Wood treatment chemicals were stored in an aboveground storage tank (AST) with an estimated capacity of 1,000 gallons. The treatment chemicals were pumped from this AST to one of two wood pole treatment tanks. One tank reportedly had a horizontal orientation and was used to chemically treat the body of wooden poles; the other reportedly was vertically oriented and was used to chemically treat the ends of the poles. After treatment, residual wood treatment chemicals were pumped back into the AST and the treated poles were allowed to air dry. All wood treating operations were dismantled during the 1960s, and related equipment was disposed of at an unknown location off site (PRC 1993). The locations of treatment tanks and pole drying areas are not known.

Previous assessment activities

October 6, 1993 – EPA conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA).

November 6, 2019 – EPA conducted a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) at the request of the City of Plummer.

July 27 – 30, 2020 – EPA conducted a Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA). The EPA led TBA field sampling event included collecting a total of 32 subsurface samples from 16 borings; two soil gas samples from two borings; 16 grab surface soil samples; six ISM surface soil samples; six surface water samples; 13 sediment samples; and one groundwater sample.

Analytical results indicate the presence of PAHs and creosote oil at the former creosote AST/vault (concrete structure) and in the central ditch, as well as at downstream locations in Plummer Creek. It appears likely that a ditch leading from the former creosote AST/vault to the central ditch has provided a conduit for contamination in this area to reach Plummer Creek. Additionally, several suspected treated pole drying areas, particularly those near the former creosote AST/vault and northward, contained several PAH detections.

Removal Site Evaluation

EPA mobilized to the site on July 7, 2021 to conduct a Removal Site Assessment. EPA divided existing site decision units into 35 subunit to collect composite samples from pre-defined intervals. Samples collected included 56 composite soil samples, 24 grab soil samples, one sediment sample, and one waste characterization sample. Samples of surface and subsurface soil collected by EPA during the RSE detected concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exceeding EPA Removal Management Levels (RMLs) for residential and industrial exposure scenarios. Analytical results from samples collected from 11 of 31 sub-units across six Decision Units (DUs) indicate concentrations above the EPA RMLs for Residential Soils; 2 of 31 sub-units across two DUs indicate concentrations above the EPA RMLs for Industrial Soils.

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