The Federal Railroad Administration has sent in six staff members to investigate the cause of Sunday’s train derailment in Watertown, which resulted in a spill of crude oil and evacuation of 35 homes.
But as of Monday morning, authorities were not sure what caused the 110-car Canadian Pacific train to derail around 2 p.m., nor could they say when local residents might return to their homes. Officials said they plan to meet again at 6 p.m. to discuss progress on the cleanup and investigation and to determine whether it is safe for residents to return.
No injuries or fires resulted from the derailment.
A total of 13 cars derailed, though a spokesman for Canadian Pacific said only one car was punctured, spilling less than 1,000 gallons of crude oil. CP reported Sunday night that all of the spilled crude oil was contained and siphoned off. None reached waterways.
There was damage to the other derailed cars and to the tracks. The railroad company expressed regret for the accident and the inconvenience to residents.
“Our No. 1 concern has been and will continue to be the safety of the citizens of Watertown,” Mayor John David said at a news conference streamed live by local TV stations.
Spilled crude oil will be hauled away and disposed. In addition, the company will develop a soil remediation plan to handle any contaminated soil.
The derailment Sunday afternoon was the second of the weekend in Wisconsin. A train derailed Saturday on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin, spilling some ethanol.
On Saturday, 25 train cars derailed about two miles north of Alma in the western part of the state. Thousands of gallons of ethanol were spilled, and cleanup dragged into Sunday. BNSF Railway said no one was hurt and it expected service to return by Monday morning.
It was the third derailment on the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge in the last nine months, according to Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, a group focusing on rail safety and traffic. The group noted that Saturday’s derailment occurred during the middle of the waterfowl migration along the Mississippi Flyway, which includes one of the largest tundra and trumpeter swan fall viewing sites in the country.
The issue of trains filled with crude oil and the potential for explosions has emerged as a concern for residents who live in bigger cities.
In Milwaukee, the tankers pass through downtown, lumbering over train trestles and brushing close to offices and condominiums. They share the same track as commuters heading to Chicago, the Journal Sentinel reported in April.
This article was written by Mark Johnson from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.