A Canadian Pacific locomotive jumped the track and punctured its fuel tank Tuesday night at a rail yard southeast of downtown St. Paul, dumping just under 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel into Battle Creek.
Crews were working Wednesday morning to contain the spill and clean it up. They had collected about 200 to 300 gallons of the leaked fuel, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Some of the diesel had spread into nearby Pig’s Eye Lake.
The spill was reported about 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Canadian Pacific rail yard off Hwy. 61 near the Mississippi River. Battle Creek flows under the rail yard at that point, according to MPCA spokesman Walker Smith.
Crews set out containment booms in the creek where it flows into Pig’s Eye Lake and vacuumed fuel off the surface of the water. Unlike oil, diesel fuel breaks up and evaporates fairly quickly, Smith said. But with winter temperatures, the creek is flowing more slowly and some of the diesel is trapped under ice.
Smith characterized the spill as “relatively small” and said there was no imminent health threat. It’s not clear yet whether the MPCA will investigate or take any enforcement action, he said. The first task is to clean it up, he said.
About two dozen ducks that were coated with diesel fuel are being rehabilitated at a Roseville facility, he said.
In a statement, Canadian Pacific said there were no injuries or public safety risks.
“CP is working directly with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,” the statement read. “Cleanup and monitoring efforts at the site are ongoing. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.”