Cleaning up: Agreement will start cleanup process where railroad tank cars stopped at former Seattle oil terminal

BNSF Railway will add to an ongoing cleanup at the former Time Oil terminal on Salmon Bay in Seattle. We’re ready to sign a legal agreement with the railroad, along with a public participation plan on how we’ll keep the community informed about BNSF’s environmental activities at the site.

Map shows BNSF portion of Time Oil site, between the rail line and the Lake Washington Ship Canal, just upstream of the Ballard locks.

BNSF Railway will conduct environmental investigation work on its portion of the former Time Oil terminal. Cleanup is under way at other parts of the site.

We’re inviting public comment on both documents from Aug. 23 to Sept. 21, 2021. Under the agreement – formally called an agreed order – BNSF will conduct a thorough study of contamination on their portion of the site, evaluate cleanup options, and propose a cleanup action plan if one is determined to be necessary. We’ll review all documents and request public comment before approving them.

BNSF owns a strip of land along its tracks where tank cars historically loaded and unloaded petroleum products at the Time Oil facility. The current owner of four other parcels at the site, TOC Seattle Terminal 1, LLC, has begun cleanup work, under a cleanup action plan we approved after public comment in 2020.

Five railroad spurs to the terminal branched off the adjacent main line, constructed in the 1930s and 40s. They were removed sometime between the 1950s and 1980s. Preliminary studies show that soil and groundwater at the BNSF parcel contain petroleum products, solvents, and related contaminants at concentrations above state cleanup standards.

We will consider all comments received and may amend the agreed order or public participation plan based on them. If we need to make large changes, we’ll hold another public comment period.

Once we finalize the documents, BNSF will proceed with the cleanup process.