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[GreenYes] Re: Railroad Ties

Title: [GreenYes] Re: Railroad Ties

Here's a file I have on the subject, some of the inforamtion is a
little old, but some is still relevant.

Here's an old article I have on the reuse of RR ties.

Recycling Keeps Railroad Ties Off The Landfill Track  WORLD WASTES
STAFF  Waste Age, Sep 1, 1995

 St. Louis   The railroads have been working hard to transport waste
across the country. But what happens to the waste generated by the

 Currently, 13 million wooden crossties are removed from railroad
each year. More than half are reused in landscaping, fencing,
construction, retaining walls  and as fuel for utilities and other
plants; the rest are landfilled.

 To conserve landfill space while turning a profit, several companies
developed innovative uses for the crossties. For example, Wood Waste
Energy Inc. (WWE), St. Louis, in cooperation with Norfolk Southern
Richmond, Va., and Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, grinds the ties
sell as fuel to an  electric utility near St. Louis.

 One advantage to burning cross ties is their low moisture content.
addition, because the crossties are creosote treated, the chips
allow the boiler fire  to burn at a higher temperature than for
untreated wood chips. For
example, the treated wood fire reportedly generates power of
7,000 Btu, compared to 4,000 to 6,000 Btu for untreated wood. Further,
the treated
wood chips reportedly leave behind less residue compared to untreated

 In Provo, Utah, another company is disassembling and reusing a 100
old, 12 mile long wooden railroad trestle submerged in the Great Salt
Lake. "The wood  is chock full of salt, which has essentially
preserved [it]," said John
Cannon, president of Trestlewood. The wooden trestles, composed of
fir and redwood  timbers, have been sold for use as pilings, telephone
poles, retaining
walls, house logs, siding, architectural elements and crib blocks for
underground coal mines.

psmith <psmith@no.address>08/05/2003 06:16 PM
Subject: RR ties
Hey, Guys.  Me again.

A city official here and a county one have asked what we can do with
railroad ties.  The creosote soaked kind.  One of them would like to
if we can use them at a park weÆre developing.  The other would just
to get them out of sight and away from any water.

 My own background is in hazardous substances.  Creosote has some
bioaccumulative substances in it, but doesn’t have very mobile
unless there’s a solvent plume moving through the area (which is not
likely here) or very permeable soil (which could be true here).

Can you think of a safe way for us to put these to reuse?

Can you think of a company who does something with these or a process
neutralize them if we can’t figure that out?

wenzel.mary@no.address 04/30/04 12:56PM >>>
I received an information request from one of the tribes in Region 9:
they have been offered a bunch of railroad ties for use and are
concerned that they might be contaminated.  I’ve read a little bit
about the issue of creosote treated railroad ties, but not enough to
know if it is an issue with all old railroad ties.  Does anyone have
any information on the likelihood of contamination?  Thanks Mary
Wenzel, US EPA, Region 9

Depends where they are from.  Old ties that were used on electric rail
lines especially may have PCBs.  On the other hand, is that worse than
what they were preserved with?  I guess they should also consider to
what use they will be put.  I'd test them before I put them in a
playground or vegetable garden; otherwise, not.

Here is Minnesota's fact sheet:


Numerous questions have been received by this office relative to the
proper disposal of discarded railroad ties and utility poles (wood
products treated with creosote or pentachlorophenol.)  Although the
following is not intended to be an exhaustive discussion of the topic,
it is in accordance with Indiana environmental laws and rules.

Many times railroad ties and utility poles that are taken out of
service are used for secondary purposes, such as landscape timbers.
Indiana Rule 329 IAC 3-2-2 (and 40 CFR 261.2) exempts materials from
the definition of a solid waste if they are Aused or reused as
effective substitutes for commercial products.@  Therefore, it would
be our interpretation that the use of these items for landscape
timbers, posts, or other legitimate substitutes for commercial
products would preclude them from consideration as solid or hazardous

Treated railroad ties and utility poles that are destined for disposal
(i.e., landfill, incineration, etc.) are considered solid waste.  The
first step in managing any material destined for disposal as a solid
waste is to determine if it is a hazardous waste.  There are four
hazardous waste characteristics that are examined under RCRA:
ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.  The only
characteristic that may apply to treated wood is toxicity.  This
determination may be accomplished using actual physical testing, via
the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), or by the use
of Agenerator knowledge.@  Extensive TCLP testing of pentachlorophenol
and creosote treated wood has conclusively demonstrated that these
wood products are not a hazardous waste.  According to 40 CFR 262.11(c)
(2), such generator knowledge can be utilized in place of testing to
determine that a waste is not a hazardous waste.

Therefore, treated railroad ties and utility poles that are being
disposed of , but which are determined not to be hazardous are
considered solid wastes and may be disposed of at any permitted solid
waste municipal landfill pursuant to Indiana Rule 329 IAC 10.


The following information is provided as guidance for the proper
disposal of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated wood wastes.  The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined CCA treated wood
waste is exempt from the hazardous waste rules of RCRA, even if it
fails the TCLP as a D004 thru D017 waste, if it is generated by
persons who utilize the wood for its intended end use [40 CFR 261.4
(b) (9) as corrected in 57 FR 30657-30658, July 10, 1992].  Even
though CCA treated wood waste may be exempt from hazardous waste
regulations, CCA treated wood waste from manufacturing activities is
subject to regulation as a solid waste under 329 IAC 10-2-174(6).
Waste from building construction activities may be regulated under the
construction/demolition provisions of 329 10-2-37.  Prior to disposal
in a solid waste landfill or construction/demolition landfill, contact
the landfill representative for further disposal requirements.

For more information, contact the Compliance and Response Branch,
Office of Land Quality at 317/308-3103.

On Jul 2, 12:37 pm, Justin Stockdale <knowa...@no.address> wrote:
> All,
> I am assisting a local "scenic" railroad as their line is being upgraded
> to support a new commuter line between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. While
> salvaging the old rail has brought an unexpected windfall to Santa Fe
> Southern, the local operator, handling the ties has proven to be a bit
> more of a challenge. Of course all salvageable ties will be consumed in
> a resale market. It is the close to 6,000 rotted and decayed ties that
> we are trying to keep out of the landfill. I suspect there may be a
> value to these materials in a facility approved to consume tires as a
> fuel source? Obviously has a significant environmental downside but
> might it be preferable to the landfill?
> Any thoughts are appreciated...
> Justin
> --
> PK  

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