A rock punctured a BNSF train engine Friday outside Pasco, Washington, causing about 2,000 gallons of diesel to spill along the tracks. The engine held about 3,000 gallons of diesel.
None of the fuel has leaked into the Columbia River, a BNSF spokesman said.
The boulder tumbled early Friday morning from nearby cliffs and onto the track, where the train ran atop it. The 108-car train was carrying freight to Seattle.
Crews placed boom in the Columbia River in case any of the remaining fuel leaked into the waters. They’re now working on cleaning up the fuel that’s spilled on the tracks.
“It’s relatively routine cleanup now. The situation certainly wasn’t routine,” said Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesman.
Melonas said cleanup will likely involve some sort of “flushing process” of the rocks around the tracks.
A Washington Department of Ecology spill response team will help BNSF crews clean the spilled diesel.
“Petroleum products have chemicals in them that can contaminate groundwater and surface water. Anytime that there’s some sort of spill-to-ground, we want to get that cleaned up and put clean soil back in place so that there is not a problem further down the road,” said Brook Beeler, a department spokeswoman.
Melonas said about 40 trains per day currently travel this busy stretch of track along the Columbia River. He said 15 trains were delayed before rail traffic started running again.
The Department of Ecology is in the middle of an oil transportation study assessing increases in rail traffic and its risks.