Federal officials want to pull part of a former wood-treating operation on the northeast side of Bozeman off a national list of contaminated sites, saying it’s clean and ready for development.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed deleting the soils portion of the Idaho Pole Superfund site from the National Priority List, where it has been listed since 1986.

About 82 acres off Cedar Street near the railroad and Interstate 90 would be included in the deletion. An EPA news release sent Friday said the EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality believe no more work is needed to protect human health and the environment at the site.

Roger Hoogerheide, EPA project manager, said the push to delete the land from the list came because people want to build there.

“There is significant interest in the property for redevelopment,” Hoogerheide said.

He also said removing places from the national priority list is “a high priority for this administration.”

Friday’s announcement opened a 30-day public comment period on the deletion. Even if the portion is culled from the list, it would be evaluated every five years to make sure it stays clean.

EPA first listed the site on the northeast side of town because of soil and groundwater contamination from pentachlorophenol and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It was home to an Idaho Pole Company wood-treating operation from 1945 to 1997.

The company used creosote to preserve wood until 1952, when it switched to pentachlorophenol in carrier oil, according to the EPA. The poles were treated in vats and then stacked for drying and shipment.

The vats leaked, according to the EPA, and the wood treating fluid soaked into the soil and groundwater. In 1978, state officials found evidence of the oily material leaking into Rocky Creek. The company built a trench to capture the discharge, but the EPA and the state later found that contaminants were still moving away from the plant.

Six years after listing the site, EPA came up with a cleanup plan for the soil and groundwater. In 1995, crews began excavating and treating the soil. By the time they finished in 2002, about 24,000 cubic yards had been treated.

The EPA sees potential for either housing or commercial development there. Because the site is within city limits, new buildings would tie into city water and sewer.

There’s a 4.5 acre “Treated Soils Area” there that is above groundwater level. It would remain on the National Priorities List even if the 82 acres are deleted. There’s also a “Controlled Groundwater Area” that would remain on the list.

Hoogerheide said work on the groundwater portion of the site isn’t done and that there’s no timeline for when it will be.

“It’s not going to be in the near future,” he said.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

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