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Testing for toxic metals in Montana railroad soil

Earlier this month, Burlington Northern Santa Fe began rigorous testing of soil in Black Eagle, Montana, at the request of the EPA. Officials are extracting samples in a rail bed, as well as the public park and residential yards that are located directly behind it. Results will indicate the levels of heavy metals and the risk they pose to people in the community.

Reports indicate that the toxic elements may be residual waste from the refinery and smelter that was booming in the area years ago. Initial testing of the railway soil conducted by the EPA in 2010 prompted further investigation of the site when results showed raised levels of dangerous metals. Specifically, the presence of lead and arsenic raised concern for more tests.

After concluding that the railway was, in fact, the cause of the heavy metals being introduced to the soil, the EPA altered Atlantic Richfield Co., the owner of the smelter property. This past summer, testing and results of the Black Eagle residential yards slowed when analysts discovered the presence of Chromium. Even though the levels were very low, and Chromium can be a natural metallic element, the EPA still performed extensive testing to be on the safe side.

The biggest concern is lead, especially because of the exposure children may be experiencing. According to reports, even a low amount of lead can significantly impact a child's development. Furthermore, EPA officials stated that exposure to elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and other types of toxic metals could greatly increase the risk of cancer in people of all ages.

While there have been no reports of illness in the area yet, should a death occur due to the exposure of these metals, it is possible for the victim's family to file a wrongful death suit against the BNSF. If exposure to life-threatening chemicals is the cause of death, contact an attorney for help in fighting your battle.

Source: Great Falls Tribune.com, "BNSF checking railroad soils for lead, arsenic," Karl Puckett, Oct. 10, 2012

  • Our firm has many experienced trial lawyers regarding matters just like the one above. Please visit our Montana wrongful death page for further information on our practice.

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