Diesel spill cleanup near Bohemia Park completed

April 28 - A sizable railroad diesel spill closed the intersection of Highway 99 and Sixth Street for five days last week as work crews contained and cleaned up the spill. 

On Tuesday afternoon, April 18, a train passed through the rail yard next to Bohemia Park and a piece of railroad equipment punctured the locomotive’s fuel tank. The train engine stopped just past the intersection of Highway 99 and Sixth Street where approximately 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel spilled on the tracks and surrounding soil. 

According to Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyers, a portion of the diesel spilled on South 6th Street. City, South Lane Fire and Rescue, and Genesee & Wyoming railroad employees mobilized to the site, blocked off 6th Street, applied Greasweep absorbent to the fuel on the street to keep it from entering the storm drainage system, and swept it up with the City street sweeper. The crews finished the work just as it started to rain and reopened the street.

Tom Ciuba, a spokesperson for the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP), said his company worked closely with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the environmental clean-up company it hired to clean up the spill thoroughly and completely. 

CORP contracted with NWFF Environmental of Philomath, Ore., to contain and clean up the spill that took nearly a week to complete. Efforts began on Wednesday, April 19 to dig out and remove diesel-contaminated soil. Heavy equipment dug a deep trench under the tracks and filled dump trucks that transported it to a landfill. 

Geoff Brown, the on-scene coordinator for the DEQ Emergency Response Unit, managed the clean-up effort. In an interview at the site on April 21, he said there has been no threat to any waterways or the public by the spill. 

“Diesel does not produce a lot of vapors and in cool weather that is particularly true,” Brown said. “We’ve been blessed with cool weather and rain in the past several days and that keeps the risk low. We’ve also been doing ambient air monitoring. There are some low-level hits in the work area but nothing across the street or near the sidewalk.”  

Brown added, “Our top priority is to ensure people and the environment are protected and I think we’ve achieved that here.” 

A CORP crew repaired the track and train traffic resumed on Sunday with final remediation work completed this week.