Cedar Hill Hamden Rail Yard
If you have questions or comments on the restoration plans for these sites, contact AskEnvironmental@Amtrak.com.
Amtrak is currently conducting a remedial investigation (RI) of the Amtrak-owned Cedar Hill Maintenance of Way (MOW) Base and an adjacent parcel of property owned by CSX (“the site”). The site, which is located at 255 Welton Street (Rear) in Hamden, Connecticut, was impacted by releases of transformer oils containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from historic railroad operations. A remedial investigation and the future selected remedy are being regulated by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1. Following the remedial investigation, public notice and comments will be offered during the remedy selection process for the site.
The Cedar Hill Maintenance of Way (MOW) Base was once part of a large freight railroad classification yard in the greater New Haven area known as the Cedar Hill Rail Yard. Owned and operated by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (New Haven Railroad) until 1969, the Yard consisted of dozens of tracks on both sides of the Quinnipiac River.
Amtrak acquired the property in April 1976 from the Pennsylvania Central Transportation Company (Penn Central) pursuant to the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 and established the Cedar Hill MOW Base in 1992. During that time, the site was used as a rail welding plant and for rolling stock storage. The facility serves as the headquarters for Amtrak personnel responsible for maintaining railroad infrastructure in the New Haven area and along Amtrak’s Springfield line. Vehicles, equipment and supplies are stored at the facility to support this maintenance work.
Historically, a portion of the site was utilized by the New Haven Railroad for maintaining electric locomotives. Based on historical maps of the site, it is believed that concrete inspection pits were located in the vicinity of former Tracks 28, 29 and 30 in the northeastern portion of the Amtrak property.
Site Location Map
In late 2005 and early 2006, PCBs were detected in the soil as a part of routine track maintenance at the north end of Tracks 28, 29 and 30. In several of the soil samples, PCB concentrations exceeded 30 times the Industrial/Commercial Direct Exposure Criteria of the Connecticut Remediation Standard Regulations within two feet of the surface, which constitutes a Significant Environmental Hazard (SEH) condition. Complying with notice regulations, Amtrak notified the CT DEEP of the SEH condition in February 2006.
Following the SEH notification, Amtrak took immediate action to limit potential PCB exposure to site workers by providing worker awareness training to employees working at the Cedar Hill Maintenance of Way (MOW) Base, as well as other protective measures.
Between 2006 and 2010, Amtrak undertook field investigations to determine the nature and extent of the PCB's impact and used this site characterization to develop a conceptual restoration approach for the PCB-impacted area. Following a meeting with the CT DEEP and the EPA in 2015 to discuss the proposed approach, Amtrak was directed by the EPA to conduct the remaining site characterization in accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requirements for high-density soil sampling.
When laboratory analytical results of high-density soil sampling performed at the site in 2016 identified elevated concentrations of PCBs in close proximity to Amtrak’s property boundary with railroad operator CSX, the CT DEEP and the EPA requested that Amtrak collect soil samples on the adjacent CSX property to determine whether the PCB contamination is present on CSX property as well. Amtrak subsequently negotiated a site access agreement with CSX and conducted three additional rounds of high-density soil sampling in 2017, 2019 and 2022. The results of the sampling indicated that PCBs were present in soil on CSX property. Based on these results, the CT DEEP and EPA directed Amtrak and CSX to work together to complete the delineation and restoration of the impacted area.
Amtrak is holding discussions with CSX regarding the development of a joint restoration solution for the PCB contamination that exists on both properties. It is anticipated that an agreement will be reached with CSX regarding the restoration in Fall 2023, after which an action work plan for both properties will be prepared and submitted to the CT DEEP and EPA for review and approval.
At this time, restoration is anticipated to include excavation and offsite disposal of PCB-contaminated soils, installation of an engineered cap and construction of an asphalt cover for vehicle parking on Amtrak property.
What are PCBs?
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are human-made organic chemicals that are part of the chlorinated hydrocarbon family. Once released into the environment, PCBs do not break down easily, persist in soil or other contaminated matter and can bioaccumulate (meaning they can accumulate over time in a living organism). According to the EPA, PCBs have been shown to cause adverse health effects to animals and humans. PCBs were manufactured for use in industrial and commercial applications until their production was banned by Congress in 1979. PCB-containing oil was used in transformers in electrical equipment because of PCBs’ non-flammability, stability and electrical insulation properties.
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