Four days after 10 railcars overturned and two locomotives derailed in a runaway train wreck in Pasco, BNSF crews have cleared all wreckage, opened up the tracks for normal use and cleaned up the spills.
Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF Co. in Seattle, said the 10,000 gallons of ethanol that leaked into the ground early Monday morning from one tanker car is not an environmental problem.
The liquid, which initially was misidentified as methanol, spilled on railroad property at Big Pasco west of East Road 40, was neutralized with water.
"The (state Department of Ecology) responded with personnel at the site," Melonas said, noting that very little diking was needed to contain the spill and it did not migrate into other areas in the ground.
At least 10,000 gallons of corn syrup also spilled, but that, too, has been collected, Melonas said.
The corn syrup spill required more effort to clean up.
"We (dug) 18 inches below the railroad roadbed and we have the soil and gravel (containing the corn syrup)," he said.
The soil and gravel have been placed in temporary storage atop plastic on railroad property so it can dry out.
Melonas said once the contaminated material is dry it will be disposed of according to accepted and established practices.
"There was no environmental risk," he said.
All tracks have been repaired and the rail yard is back in full operation, Melonas said.
Railroad officials continue to investigate why 46 cars broke loose from an 80-car train at 3:40 a.m. Monday, he said.
The breakaway cars rolled, possibly two miles or more, toward Big Pasco, where they collided with an oncoming freight train pulling 31 cars out of the grain yard.
Railway workers managed to get off the oncoming train before the collision so there were no injuries, but workers in the area were evacuated for several hours until it was found to be safe to be in the area.