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Canadian Pacific: 13 rail cars derailed in Watertown; less than 1,000 gallons of crude oil leaked

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WATERTOWN -- A Canadian Pacific train, with some cars carrying crude oil, derailed in Watertown on Sunday afternoon, November 8th -- and dozens of homes were evacuated. Evacuated residents got word Sunday night that they would NOT be allowed back in their homes.

Canadian Pacific officials say the derailment happened just after 2:00 p.m. An eastbound train carrying crude oil derailed in Watertown.

Dodge County Office of Emergency Management officials say this derailment occurred near West and Milford.

We're told there were no reports of fires or injuries. Thirteen rail cars are confirmed to have derailed, and some product was confirmed to be leaking, officials say.

"There was a leak.  That leak has been stabilized and plugged," Watertown Mayor John David said.

Canadian Pacific officials confirm the leaking car has been sealed, and spilled product was contained and siphoned off, and no product has reached waterways. All spilled product will be hauled away and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.

CP and its contractors will establish a soil remediation plan to deal with any contaminated soil.

Preliminary reports indicate less than 1,000 gallons of product spilled from the punctured rail car, and CP officials say "we are working to confirm an exact number."

Canadian Pacific officials said they're "taking this incident extremely seriously. We have mobilized teams to the site, and are in touch with local emergency responders to coordinate a response. Safety is the priority and CP takes this incident extremely seriously. CP crews, contractors and equipment are on site and we are working closely with local emergency responders as we respond to the situation. Environmental monitoring is taking place. All regulatory agencies have been notified."

The Federal Railroad Administration issued this statement to FOX6 News:

“A Canadian Pacific train has derailed near Watertown, Wisconsin, and Federal Railroad Administration investigators and hazmat specialists are en route. Some of the tank cars were carrying crude oil.”

The City of Watertown Fire Department and Police Department responded to the scene.

Fire officials then requested mutual aid from Clyman, Ixonia, Johnson Creek, Waterloo, Lebanon, Lake Mills, Beaver Dam, Juneau, Hustisford, Dousman and the Jefferson County HAZMAT Team. The Wisconsin Department of Natural resources would be responding to the scene as well.

Investigators with the Federal Railroad Administration arrived on scene on Sunday night.

The crews were working on stabilizing the train cars.

"The railroad will probably work through the night to get this cleaned up," Tom Clauder, investigator for the Office of Commission of Railroads said.

Investigators say earlier in the day an Amtrak train traveled the same tracks without a problem, and crews are trying to determine what went wrong.

"It could've been a rail. It could've been a wheel.  I don't think speed was a factor, but it's still under investigation," Clauder said.

Approximately 35 residences in the areas of Lafayette Street, Montgomery Street, West Street, and County Aire Court were evacuated.

We're told residents WILL NOT be allowed back into their homes on Sunday. Residents who have been evacuated will be put up in hotels on Sunday night, courtesy of Canadian Pacific.

Residents are asked to call the non-emergency number for Watertown Dispatch at 920-261-6660 to get further information on returning to their residences.

Amtrak officials tell FOX6 News service on "Amtrak Empire Builder Train 7" was impacted by this derailment. Train 7 was to return to Chicago, and the train was set to resume service Sunday evening with a detour from Chicago to LaCrosse.

Amtrak officials said they would provide alternate transportation for passengers traveling to destinations between Chicago and LaCrosse.

This train has 148 passengers, and travels daily between Chicago and Seattle.

Some on board that Amtrak train told FOX6 News they'd been stuck in Racine for hours, as of Sunday night.

Sarah Zarling, a train safety activist, heard the derailment in Watertown on Sunday afternoon.

"I just heard this loud noise.  Like a 'boom' noise," Zarling said.

Zarling says it was a nightmare -- an incident she always knew could become a reality.

"My head is spinning right now," Zarling said.

For nearly a year, Zarling has been warning about train derailments -- and Sunday's incident happened a few blocks from her home.

"As we got closer, we could see there were some cars tipped over, so I just took off running and I told my husband 'get the kids out of the house,'" Zarling said.

This incident in Watertown comes just one day after a train derailment in western Wisconsin.

Crews are working to clear a freight train derailment near Alma that spilled thousands of gallons of ethanol.

BNSF Railway said crews continued Sunday to transfer ethanol from the derailed cars and get the cars back on the tracks.

The train derailed Saturday about two miles north of Alma, a town along the Mississippi River. Some of the 25 derailed cars were empty auto racks and tanker cars.

BNSF says railroad crews stopped the leaks from five tanker cars and placed containment booms along the shoreline. One tanker released an estimated 18,000 gallons of ethanol, and the other four released an estimated 5 to 500 gallons each.

No one was hurt. BNSF expects the tracks to return to service Monday morning.

FOX6's Brad Hicks has done a series of investigations as it relates to train cars carrying crude oil. FOX6's "Risk on the Rails" series won an Emmy award on Saturday night, November 7th in Chicago.

Additionally, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has awarded FOX6 News a 2015 National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Best Reporting - Hard News" for "Risk on the Rails."

CLICK HERE to view Brad Hicks' "Risk on the Rails" coverage.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.



6 comments

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  • Obvious

    Amazing all the detail these news channels can release in one day on a train accident. But when it comes to my stolen car and and the thieves that stole it I still have no information. it’s been a month the dirtbags are still dead and I have no idea who to sue for my car. Honestly I still haven’t seen a report saying the car was stolen. This system is just a little flawed I’m thinking.

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