Canadian Pacific: 850 gallons of soybean oil leaked from derailed tanker

Fifteen train cars derailed, six fell into the Mississippi River

Crews have replaced and reopened the track where a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed earlier this week.

Fifteen cars in total fell off the tracks, six of them carrying vegetable oil ended up in the Mississippi River, south of Brownsville.

Canadian Pacific said the derailment caused two valves to break on one of the tankers that landed in the river, causing 850 gallons of soybean oil to leak. Since then, those have been fixed and the leak has been stopped, but the six tankers are still on their side in the river.

With a new track installed and empty tank cars standing up right, crews worked all day Thursday to prevent anymore vegetable oil from leaking into the river.

“We’re currently in the process of transloading three, which means we’re taking that soybean oil that’s in the car in the river and we’re transferring it to these tank cars which we’ve brought in,” CP Spokesman Andy Cummings said.

CP said it has to pump the vegetable oil out of the cars in the river before it can move them safely and without worry of more being spilled.

Vegetable oil is like any other oil and will float to the surface. CP has two booms in place to catch it and hopefully prevent it from moving downstream.

They were able to successfully unload three of the six cars in the river and plan to remove them sometime Friday.

Also, a second of the rail cars in the river was found late Thursday to have leaked soybean oil from a damaged three-quarter-inch diameter valve. Cummings said the leak has now been stopped, and booms are in place downstream to catch any product that might be in the water.

Cummings said they do not believe any cars are leaking at this time.

The water logged tankers are laying in the middle of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Refuge manager Sabrina Chandler said her team is working alongside Canadian Pacific to decrease the spill’s impact on the environment.

“This being a previously restored site, we do have some concerns about what this might do to the habitat that’s here,” Chandler said.

Chandler said the vegetable oil could prevent some fish and mussel species from being able to absorb oxygen from the water. She said they’re still assessing the extent of the damage, but said any amount will have some impact.

“That’s what we’re here for is to make sure that we address that and make sure that we assess it properly so that we can plan for whatever kind of impact that might have down the road,” Chandler said.

The train track parallels Highway 26, and traffic is reduced to one lane due to construction. Cummings expects clean up to take “several” more days, so drivers should plan accordingly.