40th District legislators issue statement on train derailment on the Swinomish Reservation

OLYMPIA – Today, Sen. Liz Lovelett, Rep. Alex Ramel, and Rep. Debra Lekanoff of the 40th Legislative District released the following statement in response to a train derailment on the Swinomish Reservation near Anacortes in the early hours of Thursday, March 16.

“Shortly after midnight today, March 16, a train derailed near Anacortes along the Padilla Bay waterfront on the Swinomish Reservation. There were seven cars in the train, including two locomotives, both of which derailed and spilled fuel onto a berm on the land side of the tracks. No injuries have been reported, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates between 1,260 and 1,680 gallons of diesel fuel may have been spilled onto the ground.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), as well as Swinomish police and fire crews have responded to help contain and clear the scene, while a hazmat team from a nearby refinery is providing additional equipment to aid in the spill response. In addition, cleanup contractors have been dispatched to the scene and deployed boom as a precaution, although Ecology reports there have been no observations of diesel fuel in the water.

Responders are working to pump remaining fuel from the locomotives to control the source of the spill and prepare them for removal so clean-up crews and investigators can fully access the scene. The cause of the incident is currently unknown.

Ecology works closely with our federal partners to protect sensitive resources in all areas of our state. The Legislature has previously passed legislation to improve safety of rail and oil transportation but disasters such as this demonstrates our work is not yet over. The precious wetlands and marshes of this area need to be protected not just for our wildlife, but for the health of our communities. As more details emerge in the coming days, we know that this awful disaster will inform our future work. We want to thank the Swinomish Tribe, Ecology, and all those responding to the scene for their quick work to address the derailment and protect our communities.”