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Derailed train spills canola oil in Mahnomen, cleanup continues

Crew workers clean up 13 derailed railroad cars Tuesday afternoon in Mahnomen, Minn. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

In the wake of a 13-car train derailment Monday evening in Mahnomen, Minn., crews today were cleaning up a large spill of canola oil, Canadian Pacific spokesman Jeff Johnson said.

"There was no injuries, and there was no safety concerns for the public," Johnson said, adding that the derailment occurred in an industrial area of town.

Authorities said a 100-car train was headed east at about 5:30 p.m. when 13 cars jumped the track north of the Washington-Avenue crossing. When Mahnomen County deputies responded, one car was leaking a significant amount of oil, according to the sheriff's department.

Johnson said eight of the 13 derailed cars were carrying at least 20,000 gallons of canola oil, a vegetable oil made from canola plants.

"We did lose some product, so there was canola pooling on the ground," Johnson said. Multiple cars "are leaking, but the amount of canola that is lost and on the ground, we're still assessing how much that is."

Crews built sand dikes Monday to keep the oil from flowing into a nearby culvert, the sheriff's department reported.

Johnson said crews today were pumping the pooled oil into trucks, extracting the oil that leached into the ground and removing the derailed cars from the scene. He said it was too early to say how long the cleanup will take.

The five other cars that derailed included three empty grain cars, a lumber car and a flatbed carrying parts for railroad cars, Johnson said.

Johnson said the damage from the wreck was limited to the railroad's right of way and did not affect any neighboring property. Canadian Pacific is investigating to determine what caused the derailment, he said.