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Rail tank cars parked on Ferndale siding (December 22, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Clean up plans after yesterday’s crude oil train derailment & fire in Custer laid out during morning press conference

FERNDALE, Wash. — Officials with multiple agencies involved in dealing with yesterday’s BNSF derailment and fire involving railcars containing crude oil provided some updates this morning, December 23rd, at the Whatcom County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

There were few new details provided since the first press conference held in the EOC at 4pm yesterday, the day of the derailment.

  • the investigation into the cause continues with the FBI working with other agencies
  • an Ecology official said the incident “could not have happened at a better location” due to minimized off-site environmental impacts
  • Ecology continues to monitor and look for environmental impacts at and away from the incident location
  • based on roving air monitors used yesterday, air quality never appeared to move beyond typical background levels, resulting in being able to allow evacuated residents to return
  • initial site clean up is expected to be completed in between 24 and 48 hours
  • clean up of any residual contamination found is expected to take months
  • a derailment that occurred this morning in Yakima County involved an empty grain train that was struck by a semi truck at a crossing according to a BNSF official

Department of Ecology posted the following photos on their Twitter account today.

A Seattle-Times photographer posted photos taken yesterday by a drone that provide a birds-eye view of the incident scene. Click here to view those photos on his website.

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