Locomotive hits rock, spills fuel

Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2006

ANCHORAGE - Up to 1,200 gallons of fuel spilled onto Alaska Railroad tracks when a locomotive hit a rock.

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The locomotive, part of a 46-car freight train, hit a rock on tracks at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday north of Girdwood.

The rock gashed a four-inch hole in the fuel tank of the lead locomotive, said railroad spokesman Tim Thompson, at Mile 80.5 near Bird Point. The train stopped at Mile 90 and fuel spilled on tracks as the train slowed for the half mile, Thompson said.

The train carries spill gear, and once it stopped, workers used the gear to limit spread of the fuel.

Diesel fuel did not threaten Turnagain Arm, Thompson said. The accident was across the road from the water, so the fuel was quite a distance from the shore, he said.

The locomotive's belly fuel tank holds 1,200 gallons, said Leslie Pearson, prevention and emergency response manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"It's not a big spill," Pearson said.

She said rain and a rapid temperature increase tend to send rocks falling from above the tracks.

Thompson said the rock may have fallen from a cliff but that had not been confirmed. Crews were waiting until first light Monday to investigate and continue a cleanup.

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