UPDATE: Department of Ecology spokeswoman Kim Schmanke clarified today that 50 gallons of sodium hydroxide leaked out of a tanker car onto the beach Saturday night below Chambers Bay Golf Course as a result of the derailment. Another 25 gallons also leaked out of the tanker car but was captured before it hit the ground, she said. She said there also was a third small leak that also was captured before it touched the ground. The total amount of leakage from the tanker cars to hit the ground was 150 gallons, she said.
INITIAL REPORT: During removal of tanker cars Tuesday morning from the site of the train derailment below Chambers Bay Golf Course, another 100 gallons of sodium hydroxide, or lye, spilled onto the ground.
About 50 gallons had spilled from a tanker car that had tumbled onto the beach along with three others tanker cars Saturday night. Half of that was captured before it hit the sand on the beach.
State Department of Ecology spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said Wednesday the new spill occurred away from the beach between the access road and the track bed.
She said the contaminated dirt was excavated by the contractor hired by Burlington Northern Santa Fe to clean up the site.
Test results are expected later today to confirm the effectiveness of a cleanup of the additional spill, she said.
Schmanke said the new spill of sodium hydroxide happened when contractors for BNSF were working on one of the overturned rail cars that had been removed from the beach near the golf course.
As it was being stabilized on the upland side of the railroad tracks, it rolled over and released
an estimated 100 gallons onto the access road adjacent to the upland side of the rail bed.
The tank car – which hadn’t leaked in the train derailment – had most of its contents pumped off before being moved. But some of the sodium hydroxide remained inside because it had solidified due to the cold weather and then thawed back into liquid.
Environmental agencies approved efforts to neutralize the sodium hydroxide spilled on the beach by applying citric acid to the beach.
Samples are being collected to make sure the neutralization work was successful.