Mudslide derails freight cars, disrupting rail traffic

  • Mon Dec 17th, 2012 10:44pm
  • News

By Bill Sheets Herald Writer

EVERETT — No injuries were reported as seven freight cars were knocked off the train tracks by a mudslide in Everett on Monday.

The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. at the south end of the Port of Everett property below Rucker Hill, according to Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF Railway.

Some of the cars were knocked over onto their sides, while others buckled at their couplings but remained upright. The cars were carrying 11 containers; nine of those containers were knocked over and some were split open, Melonas said.

The sections of train on either side of the derailment were stopped. All traffic on the corridor between Everett and Seattle was suspended, Melonas said.

Sounder commuter trains and Amtrak passenger trains will have to wait at least until Wednesday afternoon to operate on the corridor between Everett and Seattle, Melonas said.

The railway, which owns the rail lines, prohibits passenger trains from operating in the area of a mudslide for 48 hours afterward.

Because of heavy rains Sunday night and a forecast for more precipitation, the moratorium will extend all the way to Seattle even though the slide was north of train stations in Mukilteo and Edmonds, Melonas said.

“It’s all situational,” he said.

Special bus service will be available for Sounder train commuters.

The freight train, led by four locomotives pulling 66 freight cars, was heading from Chicago to Seattle, Melonas said. The train was traveling slowly, at 17 mph, because a smaller slide had occurred in the area just two hours earlier, he said.

The cars that were struck contained materials used in cleaners, disinfectants and fertilizers, but the accident will not pose a hazard to human health, according to Melonas.

The substances included ammonium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide and lemon concentrates and soap products, he said.

A crew of at least 50 is to work through the night to determine which rail cars and containers can be salvaged and put back onto rails and which will have to be scrapped, Melonas said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.