A leaking oil tanker has caused an oil spill that will take “several days” to completely clean up along the Mississippi River. The train was a Canadian Pacific oil tanker and it sprung a leak somewhere near Red Wing, MN, which then caused a 65-mile stretch alongside the Mississippi River to be heavily polluted before the problem was identified and stopped somewhere in Winona, MN.
Winona is located in the Mississippi Bluffs which lie along the Mississippi River and in this area oil tankers are a common sight, seen carrying “North Dakota Bakken crude oil” to destinations in the Midwest where the oil refineries receive the shipments.
Cameron Kuebler, a Winona resident, said that some days he sees as many as four or five of these tankers pass through the town. Many Winona residents said that the amount of oil that was spilled and polluted the neighborhood, and the river area, was so bad that they could smell it from inside their homes.
With simple wisdom, Kuebler noted that, “The littlest things can cause the biggest problems.” The littlest problem was that a tanker was not totally sealed, which cause it to spray a “trail of 12,000 gallons of oil along the tracks.” The amount spilled is approximately half of the capacity of a normal sized tanker’s storage. That is the big problem.
The area and the tracks immediately became a horrible smelling brown and black mixture. The area’s snow was also covered. Luckily, the problem was identified before the slick conditions of the track could cause any serious damage.
The Pollution Control Agency of Minnesota said that the job is now, “basically a snow harvest,” and that recovering the oil will be difficult. David Morrison a part of the Emergency Response Team for the MPCA said they are working with the crew and other contractors from the Canadian Pacific company to rectify this situation. The total crew is using front-end loaders and tractors to scoop out the polluted snow. There have also been industrial sized vacuum trucks deployed on the scene to draw out the spilled oil from the ground.
Another major problem is water sources that may be nearby. Morrison added that the team is currently on a reconnaissance mission to look around the streams and wetlands of the area to try and figure out if the spill caused a splash that could contaminate streams or wetlands that feed the Mississippi River.
The silver lining appears to be the conditions. Temperatures in Winona are in the teens during the day and drop below zero at night. Although the crew certainly does not enjoy working in the cold, it will make their job easier by congealing the oil and keeping it together so that it does not travel and spread as easily.
The team of Canadian Pacific and Pollution Control Agency workers will continue to clean the area trying to save what oil they can while also making sure the Mississippi River is not further damaged from the heavily pollution that was splashed from a leaking oil tanker.
By Nick Manai
Winona Daily News
LA Cross Tribune