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BNSF line N. of Madras reopens, 2 days after derailment

Work through the night on cleanup, track repairs

MADRA, Ore. - (Update: New photo, cleanup info from DEQ)

After a cleanup and repairs, a BNSF Railway line north of Madras reopened Wednesday, two days after an 80-car freight train struck two boulders, causing five locomotives and a rail car to derail and about 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel to spill.

Railroad crews worked through the night for a second night, replacing damaged rail and ties, followed Wednesday by track resurfacing with new rock to replace the removed "ballast," as it's known, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas in Seattle said.

The line reopened shortly before noon, Melonas said. He noted an average of eight to 12 trains a day run the line, about 20 miles north of Madras.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined in a cleanup and containment operation after diesel fuel spilled from the lead locomotive, officials said. 

DEQ said three sets of absorbent booms were placed in Trout Creek, located about 600 feet from the tracks, but Melonas said no fuel had reached the creek.

"We have removed contaminated soil, which is stockpiled, and are developing a plan for removal to an environmental disposition site," he said. "We will continue to monitor the area, working with appropriate agencies."

DEQ officials said crews removed about 275 yards of contaminated soil and collected samples to assess the extent of any remaining contamination in the area. Agency spokeswoman Laura Gleim said they expect results of the soil samples next week, and will monitor and coordinate any further needed cleanup work.

Geotechnical experts also have been assessing the slopes from which the large rocks fell, Melonas said. The railroad has monitoring devices in the area to detect any issues.


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