Anacortes train derailment: Some diesel spills on land but doesn't reach Puget Sound

Crews responded to a diesel spill Thursday morning after a train derailment in Anacortes

The Washington State Department of Ecology said the derailment happened near the Swinomish Casino and Lodge on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Reservation after midnight. 

The derailment involved a BNSF Railway train, and both of its engines left the tracks. The train was heading east to Burlington.

"There were six cars that were with the train at the time. All were empty," said Justin Piper, BNSF incident commander.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed approximately 2,500 gallons of diesel from one of the engines leaked on the landside. None of the fuel spilled into the Swinomish Channel of the Puget Sound. 

"The Coast Guard did do overflights up and down the [Swinomish] Channel to check for any kind of sheen. And so none was detected. We also had drones that flew down and they also detected no sheen in the waters," said Mike Sibley, EPA federal on-scene coordinator. "No impacts on fish or wildlife."

Ecology & the Marine Spill Response Corporation were at the scene. 

Piper said the cause of the derailment is under thorough investigation. This will include interviewing the conductor and engineer, the only two people who were on board.

"There’s a formal process that they go through to understand that and interviews and whatnot. And that’s both federally regulated as well as company protocols," said Piper.

The conductor and engineer were not hurt. 

The EPA said it would take contractors four to six hours to remove the contaminated soil.

"Once we remove the contaminated soil, and we believe we have it all removed, we do confirmation samplings to make sure that it’s gone, and then we can backfill with clean soil," said Sibley.

Officials said they anticipate the track will reopen by Friday afternoon.

Ecology & the Marine Spill Response Corporation responded to a BNSF train derailment on the Swinomish Reservation in Anacortes on March 16, 2023.  (Washington State Department of Ecology)

This is a developing story, and will be updated.