Train traffic has resumed on the BNSF line as of 1 p.m. Saturday, January 4. BNSF continued its cleanup efforts Friday and Saturday in close coordination with representatives from Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who remain active at on the scene.
Recovery efforts have increasingly shifted from initial containment of the leaked diesel fuel and oil towards cleanup and reclamation of the fluids that have been leaking from the partially submerged locomotive.
As of Friday, BNSF had deployed about 2,700 feet of containment booms in the river and continues to add more where needed to isolate and absorb small pockets of petroleum products up and down an approximately 10 mile stretch of the Kootenai River between Bonners Ferry and the leaking locomotive.
Representatives from Idaho DEQ and the EPA are assessing and taking steps to minimize the impacts of the spill on the river’s ecology.
Saturday’s activities include adding another 4,300 feet of containment boom to protect four environmentally sensitive areas that were identified in coordination with Idaho DEQ and the Kootenai Tribe.
Meanwhile, BNSF has removed the remaining fuel from the second engine to avoid any future leaks as the locomotive is recovered.
The lead locomotive is still in the water and BNSF has deployed a containment boom just downriver from the engine to contain leaking fluids as far upstream as is possible.
BNSF engineers are still assessing the situation and developing a recovery plan for the locomotives.
The residential water supplies for residents of Bonners Ferry and the surrounding areas are not affected by the fuel spill, as they do not pull water from the Kootenai.
Boundary County officials have placed a restriction on boating through January 8 and continue to ask for the public’s cooperation in staying off the river to allow the over three dozen emergency responders and cleanup personnel to work unimpeded during this crucial environmental cleanup period.