EPA Issues Early Findings In Flathead Lake Sheen Testing

May 12, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected low levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.

In a statement, the EPA says it still has not determined the cause of the sheen that was first reported early last week and expects final, validated sampling results next week.

BNSF Railway says it’s confident the sheen found on Somers Beach is from a biological source, not man-made. As a precaution, the railway company removed the material last weekend.

BNSF is coordinating with the EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality to determine if additional action is necessary.

The sheen appeared in pockets along a 1,000 foot stretch of shoreline near Somers.

The EPA and BNSF took quick steps to contain and try to identify the source of the sheen due to its close proximity to the former Somers Tie Plant, which treated railway ties with creosote and other chemicals for several decades before being listed as a superfund site in the mid-1980s.

BNSF, in coordination with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA, oversaw soil and water cleanup, and continues to monitor the site.