Train derails north of Madras
Six Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad cars derailed early Monday morning, about 20 miles north of Madras, spilling an estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel from one of the five engines.
The derailment was caused by the train colliding with two large boulders that had landed on the tracks. All of the railcars remained upright and there were no injuries.
Workers responding to the site Monday managed to keep the diesel from going into nearby Trout Creek. Authorities from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and BNSF responded to the scene.
Even though the diesel had not reached the creek, three absorbent booms were deployed to capture any diesel, in case it were to reach the creek, according to Laura Gleim, DEQ public affair representative.
According to Gus Melonas, BSNS regional spokesman, the derailment occurred at about 2:30 a.m. Monday. It involved a northbound freight train en route from Bakersfield, California, to Pasco, Washington. Along with the five cars involved in the derailment, the train was hauling 11 loaded railcars and 64 empty cars.
Melonas indicated that the train hit rocks that had fallen from a 100-foot cliff near the tracks. According to reports, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deputy Joe Aldred, who responded to the event, noted crew members saying the collision "launched them into the air" and that one of the rocks "was the size of a VW."
Crew members hit the train's brakes when they spotted the rocks, but it was too late to avoid colliding.
Officials said only one of the fuel tanks appeared to have been punctured and spilt fuel.
Gleim indicated that it will take a week or more to clean up the spilled diesel, and it will require excavating and removing the contaminated soil underneath and around the railroad tracks.
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