Clean Up Continues at Slinger Derailment Site

Jul 22, 2014

Diesel fuel being vacuumed off at Slinger spill site.
Credit Scott Ferguson WDNR

Crews are siphoning off diesel fuel that pooled near the tracks after Sunday evening's train collision 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee. 

Jason Lowery is closely monitoring the removal of the 5,000 gallon spill.  Lowery serves as the DNR's Spills Response Team Leader.  

Tuesday afternoon he said, " the contractors started vacuuming out the diesel fuel from the dtich yesterday.   They're hoping to get as much done in as short a time as possible; there is a possibility of rain tonight, fortunately it doesn't look like it should be a lot of rain."

The workers have taken additional precautions.  They constructed a series of dams to hold back the fuel if rain is heavy.  

"They also place absorbent materials in the ditch to soak up diesel fuel because it's floating on top of water that was already standing there before the spill. And they've constructed some areas to divert water and diesel fuel into, if that ditch does get filled up," Lowery says.

The spill occurred Sunday evening when locomotives from CN and the Southern & Wisconsin Railroad collided in Slinger, located in Washington County.

Two people aboard the Canadian National Railway train suffered non life-threatening injuries.

Ten train cars derailed spilling lumber and diesel from a fuel tank. CN representatives say its locomotives were carrying frack sand, while W&S were hauling steel, plastic pellets and lumber.

Fire fighters evacuated nearby residents for several hours on Sunday, for fear the fuel from one of the train's tanks might catch fire. That threat ended and odors subsided, but Lowery says clean up will stretch out over the week.

Still, Lowery anticipates surface and groundwater will remain contamination-free.

"There is a wetland further west and Pike Lake is in that area but as long as the workers can remove the fuel in the next few days and they excavate (the contaminated soil) the chances of groundwater contamination is pretty limited," Lowery says.