BLAIRSDEN — Clean-up efforts continued Monday after a Union Pacific train hauling coal derailed near the Middle Fork of the Feather River in Plumas County on Sunday.
The derailment of 15 cars occurred at approximately 6:45 a.m. near Highway 70 and Camp Layman Road in Blairsden, Plumas County according to an emailed statement to this newspaper from Meg Ronspies, Union Pacific Corporate Communications.
“What we know is that three cars are partially in the water and several dumped coal into the river,” said Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns on Monday. “No engine was involved and no fuel was spilled. Several environmental teams from (California Department of) Fish and Wildlife were called for cleanup.”
By noon on Sunday, a team from Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response was on scene, said Debra Lucero, Plumas County administrative officer.
“My understanding is the team was on site assessing potential impact on the environment,” said Lucero.
The cars were transporting the coal to Portola at the time of the incident. No hazardous materials were released.
“Coal is not considered a hazardous material so no hazmat team was sent,” said Ronspies, in a telephone interview.
She went on to say the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services had been contacted to “put remediation plans in place.”
In a Monday email to this newspaper, Brian Ferguson, OES deputy director for Crisis Communication and Public Affairs wrote, “Cal OES is actively monitoring this incident and coordinating with local partners from Plumas County, Union Pacific Railroad and the state Office Spill Prevention and Response.”
The email went on to say, “As of (Monday) morning personnel contracted by Union Pacific are on scene conducting cleanup. There are no injuries, fatalities, evacuations or fires reported at this time. Union Pacific reported to the state that there was an estimated release of 2,470,000 pounds of coal with an unknown amount into the Middle Fork Feather River in Blairsden.”
A representative from the CDFW’ Spill Prevention and Response department said she was unable to provide any information as to any possible effect or threat the coal spill could have downstream on Lake Oroville into which the Middle Fork of the Feather River flows.
The incident remained under investigation Monday and service will resume after track work is completed, which is estimated to take another day, according to Union Pacific.