State and federal environmental quality agencies and BNSF on Monday were cleaning up a diesel spill caused by a freight train derailment near Madras.
Five train engines and one railcar carrying vehicles derailed about a mile from the BLM’s Trout Creek Campground along the Deschutes River. Responders reported it appeared only one engine’s fuel tank – about 4,000 gallons – was punctured and released fuel.
Officials with the Oregon DEQ and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a release that the fuel has not reached Trout Creek, but as a precaution, first responders have deployed absorbent boom to capture any diesel in case it were to reach the creek. Trout Creek is a tributary of the Deschutes River.
The BNSF train derailed overnight Monday after two boulders, including one “the size of a VW” tumbled down a 100-foot cliff onto the tracks.
Gus Melonas, with BNSF, said wheels of five locomotives and one rail car came off the tracks but remained upright.
He said the train came to an emergency stop about 2:30 a.m. near Gateway, north of Madras.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Aldred had to cross a creek and hike up a hill to make contact with the crew. When he arrived, he said he saw the track was broken and part of the concrete ties were gone.
“The (crew) was happy it did not fall down the side of the hill after hitting the rocks because it launched then in the air a bit,” Aldred said in his report.
Crews are on the scene working to lift the cars off the tracks.
The train was carrying 11 loaded cars with general merchandise and 64 empty cars from Bakersfield, Calif. to Pasco, Wash. No one was injured.
The tracks are expected to be closed for the day.
File photo courtesy BNSF