A 100-car Pacific Union train derailed west of La Salle, Colo. on Friday at around 8:00 am. The train had been loaded in Windsor with Niobrara crude oil that was bound for New York.
Union Pacific Railroad sent crews to the derailment site where they spent much of the afternoon working to clean up and contain the mess.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said that road traffic was not be affected by the derailment. Davis expects any inconveniences to rail traffic to be minor.
“It’s on our line that doesn’t see much use," said Davis. "It’s off the main line that goes through Greeley. It’s not impacting operations that greatly."
Of the six cars that went off the tracks only one leaked oil.
There was initial concern about an environmental issue, but fortunately the spill had been safely contained in a ditch off the roadway. The nearby South Platte River was not threatened by the oil leak.
Though Davis told reporters that he couldn’t say how much oil was being leaked, an Environmental Protection Agency official said that the car was losing oil at a rate of 20 gallons to 50 gallons per minute.
The car was carrying a total of 28,000 gallons of oil.
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The crew managed to contain the leak by vacuuming the contents directly from the train car. A second vacuum recovered oil that had been spilled.
Craig Myers, the on-sight coordinator for the EPA, told the Denver Post that the Union Pacific Railroad company got lucky in that the damage caused by the derailment was “minimal”.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall commented about the derailment and spill. The senator feels strongly that the industry needs better regulations when it comes to the handling and transportation of crude oil.
The New York Times reported that the Department of Transportation is working on updating safety standards for train cars, many of which have been in service since the 1960s.
Image via CBS Denver, Facebook