CP train derails and spills oil

by Array

PARKERS PRAIRIE, Minnesota—Thousands of gallons of oil leaked onto frozen ground after a Canadian Pacific train carrying crude from Canada derailed Wednesday in western Minnesota.

The 94-car mixed cargo train was headed south near Parkers Prairie en route to Chicago, Illinois, when it lost air pressure and went into an emergency braking mode, the Otter Tail County sheriff’s office said. Fourteen tankers derailed. Three either leaked or spilled oil. No one was hurt, and a spokesman for the state’s pollution control agency said crews were able to control the spill.

It is estimated between 76,000 to 113,000 litres (20,000 to 30,000 gallons) leaked onto the ground, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson said.

The spill was contained in a field and ditch in a rural area, and the cold weather helped keep the spill contained and prevented oil from moving down the ditch or into the ground, Olson said.

One heavily damaged car spilled much of its 98,420 litres (26,000 gallon) load, Olson said. He said the oil was “just oozing out” in the cold.

Because the ground is frozen, there’s no threat to water, Olson said. Initial recovery efforts likely will take a day or two, and excavations then will be done to determine if any oil leaked into the soil, he said.

The railroad was cleaning up the spill, CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said.

While the spill appeared to be under control from an ecological standpoint, it could play a role in the politics surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas.

Environmentalists have criticized the proposal, saying that a pipeline could be prone to spills and would ensure that the carbon-laden tar sands are fully developed.

A recent analysis from the State Department seemed to knock down one of their arguments, by saying that when it comes to global warming, shipping the oil by pipeline would release less pollution than using rail.

Greenberg said he did not know if the oil that spilled from the oil sands.