Ethanol spill contained in Pasco rail yard

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2011 4:47 PM
Ethanol spill contained in Pasco rail yard

Two trains collided in a railroad yard at Pasco, causing two locomotives and 10 rail cars to derail early Monday, spilling 10,000 gallons of ethanol and some corn syrup.

Emergency responders plugged the punctured tanker of fuel additive just before noon and lifted an evacuation that had kept about 20 workers away from nearby businesses in the Port of Pasco. There are no homes nearby.

There were no injuries and no significant environmental damage, said Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas.

Another tanker spilled some corn syrup, but Melonas described it as just a drip.

The ethanol was contained by dikes and sprayed with foam. Cleanup work began right away and there was no risk to the nearby Columbia or Snake rivers, Melonas said.

The derailment should be cleared by Tuesday, but it only blocked part of the switching yard.

The accident occurred at 3:40 a.m. when a broken coupler caused 46 cars to roll into the idling train of two locomotives and 31 cars. Three crewmen were warned by radio, Melonas said.

"They saw it coming and had ample time to get off the locomotive safely," he said.

The locomotives remained upright, although off the rails. In addition to the ethanol, the other derailed cars contained calcium chloride, ammonium nitrate, paper and the corn syrup.

Franklin County Fire District 3 Chief Les Litzenberger said temperatures in the 30s and 40s kept the corn syrup too thick to flow.

"It's really cold here so it doesn't go that fast," he said.