Derailed trains dumps diesel fuel into the Mississippi

"It's a real concern"

Susie Jones
August 08, 2018 - 3:33 pm

Crews are cleaning up a diesel spill on the Mississippi River that happened when two Union Pacific locomotives derailed on a bridge in South St Paul. 

It happened around 2 A.M. Wednesday, when a punctured fuel tank spilled around 3,200 gallons of diesel fuel into the river.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South says crews placed absorbent booms in the water to try to soak up the spill, including one eight miles downstream. She says boats are also vacuuming up floating fuel. 

Teams from the Environmental Protection Agency and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are on the scene. MPCA spokesman Walker Smith says they don't expect the cleanup to take long and don't expect any long-term impact on the river.

"Diesel fuel will evaporate a little bit," said Smith. 

Still the spill is a concern to those who live nearby like Ron Schroeder who walks his dog at a nearby dog park.

"It's the safety of the river, it's the safety of the town," said Schroeder. "It's always kind of in the back of everyone's mind."

Smith said the spill was spread out and didn’t appear to pose a danger to wildlife or humans, nor was there a threat of a fire. Union Pacific will monitor the riverbanks for the coming weeks for contamination.

The cause of the derailment is being determined and no injuries were reported.