Two crewmembers are uninjured and fuel cleanup is underway after a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway locomotive derailed and began leaking diesel into the Kootenay River east of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, late New Year’s Day.
BNSF personnel are being assisted by firefighters from the area to pull the engine from the river and clear the track, a task that will likely last until sometime Friday. Containment booms have been set up in the river to prevent the spilled fuel from flowing downstream, and eventually into Canada 43 kilometres north of Bonners Ferry.
The incident happened about 10 p.m. MST Jan. 1 about 16 kilometres east of Bonners Ferry, in a remote area with steep terrain near the Idaho-Montana border.
“The first to arrive found the lead engine in the water, the two-man Spokane crew sitting on top, the second engine upright but half in the water,” reported the Kootenai Valley Times. “The 113 cars, seven containing hazardous materials, stayed upright.”
The cause is still under investigation, but BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas, from his Seattle office, told the Times that the apparent cause of the derailment was a rockslide.
Calls from the Advance to Idaho authorities to learn more details about the fuel spill and cleanup have not yet been returned.