On Monday, a Canadian Pacific Railway train leaked about 12,000 gallons of crude oil along 68 miles of track between Red Wing and Winona, Minnesota. No significant cleanup effort was planned as of Tuesday, according to the Winona Daily News.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was informed of the leak around noon on Monday. According to a report from the Department of Public Safety, the train crew stopped and fixed the leak just past Winona. The report blamed the leak on a missing valve or cap.
An MPCA spokesperson told the Associated Press that no major cleanup was planned because the oil was splattered along the rails and track bed. “It’s like spray-painted oil,” she said. But the response could change if officials find larger pools of oil or if oil threatens waters along the tracks.
On Tuesday, MPCA officials were reportedly examining critical areas such as river crossings, looking for any environmental damage or indication of runoff. Minnesota state law requires any fuel spill of 5 gallons or more to be reported with the Department of Public Safety.
An MPCA spokesperson said no fines or citations will be issued until an investigation is completed. The train spilled less than half the contents of a tanker car, which typically holds about 26,000 gallons of liquid.
Data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration shows that, during 2013, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from trains. The data does not include incidents that occurred in Canada, including when a runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and spilling more than 1.5 million gallons of crude last year.
“The spilling of crude oil is a significant offense that requires a careful investigation of all the facts surrounding the incident,” said Emmie Paulos, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who is involved in the BP oil spill litigation. “There are federal environmental laws in place to protect the public and environment; any violation of these laws could result in prosecution of the culpable party.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.