Oil Spill

Crude oil is seen along the railroad tracks at the Huff Street crossing Tuesday in Winona after a Canadian Pacific railroad car spilled 12,000 gallons of oil Monday between Winona and Red Wing.

No significant cleanup work is planned after a valve or cap mishap on a Canadian Pacific rail car spilled 12,000 gallons of crude oil between Winona and Red Wing.

According to officials at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the incident was reported at 11:41 a.m. Monday, after crews discovered the leak. The spill involved less than half the contents of a typical tanker car, which holds about 26,000 gallons of liquid.

According to David Morrison, a member of the MPCA emergency response team sent out Tuesday, the spill was more pronounced along the tracks in Winona when he inspected rail crossings in the city Tuesday afternoon. Morrison said this was probably due to increased snow cover on the tracks, making the spill more visible, and the train traveling more slowly through the city, depositing more oil.

No major cleanup work was planned as of Tuesday, MPCA public information officer Catherine Rofshus said, due to the low volume of oil along the tracks, but could change if larger pools of oil are found or oil threatens any waters along the tracks.

Rofshus said MPCA staff were still examining critical areas such as river crossings Tuesday morning to assess any environmental damage or amounts of oil requiring cleanup. Another option the MPCA is looking into is dispatching staff when snow melt occurs to look for oil sheen and runoff.

“The main goal of the MPCA today is to protect any waters from contamination as the railroad tracks cross the Zumbro and Cannon rivers, as well as Wells Creek, along with close proximity to wetlands, including Weaver Bottoms,” Rofshus said in an email Tuesday morning. “Initial reconnaissance found only a spattering of oil across Wells Creek north of Lake City.”

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Rofshus said the MPCA’s first goal with the incident is response, followed by an investigation. No fines or citations will be issued until that investigation is completed, she said.

State law requires any spill of five gallons or more of fuel or oil be reported to the duty officer at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Oil was spilled in 2009, when a leaking Union Pacific locomotive splattered 15 houses on Winona’s East End with oil before traveling on to Milwaukee. Union Pacific employees initially neglected to report the leak, coming forward several days later. The total amount of oil leaked was never disclosed, with Union Pacific officials calling it a small amount.

Other spills have been reported to the MPCA over the years, mostly involving small amounts of hydraulic fluid or fuel leaked or spilled from locomotives. The largest rail incident in recent memory was the 2008 Dresbach derailment that dropped more than two dozen cars into the Mississippi River, released 3,200 gallons of fuel and diesel, and more than 33,000 gallons of liquid fertilizer.

Ed Greenberg, spokesman with Canadian Pacific, said the company is cooperating with the MPCA investigation and is also doing one of their own into what caused the leak. The tanker car that had the malfunction has been pulled from service, Greenberg said, and if future clean up efforts are required, Canadian Pacific will cooperate fully.

“All indications are the product remained between the rails,” Greenberg said. “Any potential mitigation actions will take place if identified.”

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(18) comments

Steve H

JS, OK, I guess you win (NOT!) ... A scientist myself, I believe in those 97% of climate scientists who are staunch on global warming being fact, the same people you allude to as " ..conspirators, rainbows and unicorns, etc". If 100 doctors told you smoking was bad for your health, and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh told you those doctors were quacks, you would be doing a fist pump, and applauding those two NON-doctors. Delusional??? Look in the mirror. I find it difficult dealing with scientific illiterates. It's like trying to explain calculus to a person who has difficulty with sixth grade math ... a total waste of time. Notice, of those who have written, YOU are the only one on the YOUR side of the issue. With all said, the other readers can sift and sort these exchanges. Enough! This is my final post


That's success. One less fanatical dreamer spouting ridiculous change the world with Rush and Glenn.


No. Hemp is not the dodge, it is clearer that it likely relates to the cause of the delusions of conspiracies, rainbows and unicorns that you imagine.

Steve H

Hemp??? Let's ditch that topic! JS, the "hemp": topic helped you dodge the point I made on unsafe transportation of oil, and the failure of this nation (and other nations) to react (decades ago) to a need for greener energy. While fossil fuels may have been (and probably still are) the least expensive for energy, when ONLY considering THAT ... the energy, it's long term use is going to cost us trillions of dollars in the future - in MANY ways. It's kind of like somebody smoking cigarettes when they're young .... clueless that they will pay health consequences 20-30 years later. Had we taken heed back in the 70's, we would not have so many rail cars hauling oil. One point ... in the heat of the 1974 oil embargo, there was a group of 300 scientists from the Fermi Labs (Chicago) dedicated to work on alternative energies. No sooner had the embargo ended, and that group was immediately disbanded. Had they kept that effort going, we might be living in a much cleaner world today.


Hemp. That's the answer all right and explains what I am reading. Convert all the crops in the country from soy and corn. Smoke the leaves, eat the seeds and wear clothes and work other wonders out of the stalks we don't like to smoke. Solar panels and wind turbines made in China, and where will they go? It's the crazy CAVE people (citizens against virtually everything) that will protest your wind farms, solar panels that block the view, and every mine that is needed to produce the metals and minerals for the 425 parts in the turbines, the sand for glass in the solar panels and the the butane light the pipe.


JS - no, we NEVER needed oil. We could have used hemp instead. The 1st Ford car was made from a hemp composite and ran on hemp fuel.
and just like Steve H said, self-interest groups fought the effort and instead made hemp illegal.
But, Steve H, although your petition is well intentioned, it could be misconstrued as fuel for them to continue with their gawd-awful plans of the Keystone pipeline which can also spill and destroy the land and water.

Hemp oil can replace crude oil, and the seeds are a super-food. http://www.hemp-technologies.com/page33/page33.html
Torus, solar, wind, etc...can replace fossil fuels.
We just need to convince some very big corporations that the Earth matters more than those dollars in their bank account.

Steve H

JS, you are clueless and myopic! This is about reckless transportation of oil, not about oil, per se. Re: your point about all the things made of oil. Of course we can't magically turn off the switch on oil, for the world would come to a halt. Yet, for the past 4-5 decades, we have known of the downside of oil. Had the world's leading nations taken action decades ago, in developing and promoting greener energy, today we would be using appreciably less fossil fuels. But self-interest groups fought those efforts, and here we are in 2014, having made only minimal progress. Oil will ALWAYS be part of our society, so the real problem has been our failure to shift consumption. While nature has maintained a balance of O2 and CO2 for the past half million years, in just 200 years mankind has disrupted that delicate balance by dumping an excess of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the consequences of global warming are now beginning to show. Wait another 25 years; chaos is looming!


Wow. It's hard to believe that people can actually believe the unrealistic fantasies of the prior 10 comments. 10 commenters who can only spread the fantasy on media formed from carbon energy/ fossil fuels, utilizing computers made from glass, metal and minerals from mines around the world and plastics from the oil they curse. Imagine your life without fossil fuels and it will end in this weather in less than 24 hours. Stop pretending you can live without it. Enjoy the gift while it lasts and alternatives will be developed.

Winona activist

Why is no one cleaning this up? It's sitting on top of the snow so get shoveling!


How crude. Storm the Bastille!

Steve H

If you're interested in seeing ONE EXAMPLE of the potential harm/damage these rolling time bombs possess, check out this link ... http://dot111.info/2014/02/05/deadly-crash-raises-concerns-about-oil-on-rails/ .... and if you want to get a year-by-year snapshot, that shows a national map of related rail OILaccidents, then this link will provide good info ... http://dot111.info/2014/01/23/map .... Again, SIGN THE PETITION. Remember, 79,000 of these tanker cars do NOT meet required safety standards, and the petition will force action to rectify the problem, and hopefully reduce the risk now present.


It'll get a lot worse before we see a change in the energy industry.

Mike Kennedy

This isn't about the amount of oil, especially if it was the highly volatile Bakken crude. It was a fuse dangling beneath a huge firebomb for more than a hundred miles. You must have seen the sparks that the train wheels create often, when going 50-60 mph (rural) and even 25 mph (urban). I would say that by the grace of God, we dodged a bullet. The event is also indicative of a larger problem with the quality and maintenance of all RR transports for dangerous materials, running right through the heart of many cities.


So tired of these fossil fuels, the mess they make, the corruption they breed.
I keep hearing about Europe and their wonderful solar panels, and then the thrivemovement.com is always talking about innovative new renewables and 'free' energies: http://www.thrivemovement.com/advocate-renewable-energy

How many citizens will it take to make our leaders HEAR?
(we're here...we're here...we're here...)


The carbon energy beast is dying a slow, ugly death. The world is feverishly turning toward more stable, life-friendly energy forms....yet the beast flails out in a vain, doomed effort to perpetuate it's foul existence.


Why wouldn't this oil spill get cleaned up prior to the snow melting?


Talk about minimizing a situation. 12,000 gallons is nothing? Seems like a lot of oil to me. And it sounds like it is spread out over a large area. But don't worry, it stayed between the tracks. Right, and what is beneath the tracks? Railroad ballast which is coarse crushed stone, which is not absorbent, which means the oil will wash through the ballast rock and into into the soil below and the water below that, which would mean replacing the tracks to clean up, which would cost a lot of money. Thus no major cleanup advised . . .

Steve H

Whereas there are 93,000 DOT-111 oil tank cars hauling oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, to the Midwest and points east, and whereas 79,000 of these tank cars do not meet safety standards, and whereas there have been several calamities (derailments, fires, explosions, many deaths, etc) caused by these defective cars, I would be interesting in knowing if this particular car was one of those suspect cars. If so, that this happened is not a surprise ... not at all! Regardless, there are 79,000 "bombs" riding the rails along the Mississippi rails. If this bothers you, there is a means to take action ... sign this petition. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-transporting-explosive-hazardous-crude-oil-rail-using-unsafe-and-outdated-dot-111-tanker-cars/QR42328x


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