HomeEnvironmentContaminated groundwater found in train derailment on Swinomish Reservation

Contaminated groundwater found in train derailment on Swinomish Reservation

Cleanup crews at the site of a BNSF train derailment that leaked thousands of gallons of diesel fuel On the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community reservation have discovered contaminated groundwater.

Under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency, crews contracted by the railway have pumped out some 3,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater, according to a Friday news release from a unified command team that includes federal, state and local environmental and environmental conditions.

Crews also removed more than 1,200 cubic yards of soil and will install groundwater wells to monitor for “any migration of diesel from the spill site,” according to the news release.

Around midnight Thursday, the train’s two locomotives derailed and one buffer car partially derailed next to a recreational vehicle park, about 400 feet from the Swinomish Casino and Lodge along the Padilla Bay waterfront.

It was initially unclear how much diesel fuel leaked from the two locomotives that toppled. An update Thursday night from the three agencies said up to 3,100 gallons of diesel spilled.

The spill happened on a berm near the Swinomish Channel, which is 11 miles long and feeds into Padilla Bay to the north and Skagit Bay to the south. It’s partly dredged, historically connecting some shallow tidal sloughs and mud flats that are rearing habitat for juvenile Chinook and other salmonid species.

No diesel has reached the shoreline as of Friday afternoon. The area has been protected by booms.

The Coast Guard circled nearby waterways with a drone and later a helicopter, searching for a sheen on the water that would indicate oil. No effects to wildlife have been reported.

“The train did not derail in the direction that would have put pollutants into water, so we’re very fortunate that most of what was spilled ended up on land,” Ecology spokesperson Emily Tasaka said Thursday.

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