Derailed BNSF train leaking fuel into Kootenai River

Derailed BNSF train leaking fuel into Kootenai River

Emergency crews have rescued two train operators trapped in a BNSF engine that derailed into the Kootenai River 10 miles east of Bonners Ferry on Wednesday.

None of the operators were injured during the derailment reported at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, Boundary County emergency management said.

Three locomotives and six rail cars were derailed, said BNSF spokesman, Gus Melonas.

One locomotive is in the river, one is in the right of way, and one is on the bank of the river partially in the water, Melonas said. The tracks have a rock cliff on one side and the bank of the river on the other, Melonas said.

The freight train was making its way from Minneapolis to Pasco carying general freight, Melonas said.

The engine is leaking diesel fuel into the river. BNSF and other emergency crews are working to contain the spill and remove the engine from the water, according to Boundary County.”

The Spokesman-Review – Jan 2, 2020

Update February 3, 2020:

The final BNSF engine that had been submerged in the Kootenai River has been carefully removed thanks to a great effort by a large team of divers, engineers, and mechanics.

Using large airbags attached to the engine by a team of divers and aided by heavy equipment, the massive locomotive was floated across the river and disassembled.

The team, composed of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, local authorities, and on site contractors, worked to ensure that the engine was removed and tried to reconstruct the damaged environment. After the removal, divers scoured the bottom of the river to clean up underwater debris from the site.

Removal of the final BNSF engine out of the Kootenai River on January 26th, 2020.
Photo by Dwight Vasel, BNSF