Less crude oil has spilled than previously estimated from a Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. train that partially derailed early Wednesday in northwest Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Thursday that cleanup crews have now determined that less than 15,000 gallons has spilled on to the frozen ground in rural Minnesota near the town of Parkers Prairie.
Original estimates were that at least 20,000 gallons had spilled, possibly as much as 30,000. However, the freezing temperatures have made cleanup more difficult than originally expected.
"Freezing temperatures at the site that helped contain the spill have also made it difficult to take up the oil. Only about 1,000 gallons has been recovered. The remaining oil on the ground has thickened into a heavy tar-like consistency mixed with snow," the Minnesota pollution agency said in a press statement.
Canadian Pacific announced early Thursday that the rail line has been cleared. "At last report, the clean-up process is progressing well. The rail line was formally reopened early Thursday morning, following full track repairs, and mandatory inspections were completed. The investigation into the cause continues," said CP spokesman Ed Greenberg.
The shipment of crude oil had come from Canada. According to CP, 14 of the train's 94 cars derailed.
The thickened crude oil mixed with snow is being stored at the site and is expected to take another day or two to clean up. CP has ordered special equipment that can heat the 14 derailed cars so that the oil inside will flow more easily and be pumped into other tanker railcars. "This process is expected to take up to a few weeks," the pollution agency said.
Because the ground is frozen, the spill isn't expected to seep into ground water or to spread to any surface water.