Archived Story

Rail line reopens following oil spill

Published 11:13am Thursday, March 28, 2013

PARKERS PRAIRIE — Canadian Pacific says the rail line where a derailment and crude oil spill occurred in western Minnesota has been re-opened.

The railroad says an inspection and track repairs are complete and a cleanup is progressing.

Thousands of gallons of oil leaked onto frozen ground after the train carrying crude from Canada derailed Wednesday in Otter Tail County. The 94-car train was headed south near Parkers Prairie when 14 cars derailed. The train went into an emergency braking mode. Three tanker cars either leaked or spilled oil. No one was hurt.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson says an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons leaked onto the ground. The spill was contained in a field and ditch in a rural area.

One heavily damaged car spilled much of its 26,000-gallon load, Olson said. He said the oil was “just oozing out” in the cold.

Because the ground is frozen, there’s no threat to water, Olson said. Initial recovery efforts likely will take a day or two, and excavations then will be done to determine if any oil leaked into the soil, he said.

The railroad was cleaning up the spill, Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said.

While the spill appeared to be under control from an ecological standpoint, it could play a role in the politics surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas. Environmentalists have criticized the proposal, saying that a pipeline could be prone to spills and would ensure that the carbon-laden tar sands are fully developed. A recent analysis from the State Department seemed to knock down one of their arguments, by saying that when it comes to global warming, shipping the oil by pipeline would release less pollution than using rail.

Greenberg said he did not know if the oil that spilled was tar sands oil. The train, carrying a mix of cargo, originated in western Canada and was bound for Chicago, he said.

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