Train Derailment Leads to Diesel Spill on Tribal Lands

image of the derailed train at anacortes. shows orange train laying on the side of berm at night.

image of the derailed train at anacortes.

by | Mar 24, 2023

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image of the derailed train at anacortes. shows orange train laying on the side of berm at night.


The derailment of two BNSF trains in Arizona and Washington State, on March 9th, comes on the heels of the February 3rd toxic waste spill in East Palestine, Ohio.

Derailment in Washington State

The derailment near Anacortes, WA dumped almost 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the environment. While no injuries were reported, the cause of the derailment remains unclear.

The accident happened on the Swinomish tribal reservation along Puget Sound. According to the state Ecology Department, most of the oil spilled on the landside of the tracks rather than in the water. Officials stated that there were no indications of the spill reaching the water or affecting wildlife populations. Nonetheless, precautions have been taken to protect the shoreline and the remaining fuel has been removed from the two derailed locomotives.

Derailment in Arizona

The Arizona train wreck, carrying corn syrup, involved eight cars and lead to the blockage of the main track, this, according to spokeswoman Anita Mortensen of the Mohave County Sheriff’s office. At the time of the accident, she had not been made aware of any leaks or spills.

Rail Safety in Question

The Washington State and Arizona incidents came in the middle of heightening concerns about rail safety nationwide. The toxic train derailment in Ohio last month is still very much in the news. Additionally, there have been multiple derailments across the United States since the Ohio accident, including in Michigan and Alabama.

According to federal data, the US averages three derailments per day. However, most derailments do not result in widespread environmental and health disasters.

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