Port Oil Spill

An out-of-use freight engine owned by the Port of Coos Bay was found recently to be leaking oil which contaminated soil in the rail yard off Hall Avenue in Coos Bay.

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COOS BAY — The International Port of Coos Bay is currently working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to clean up oil that was released from Port-owned locomotives.

The leak, which was coming from an out-of-use locomotive in a rail yard on the east end of Hall Avenue, was reported to DEQ through the Oregon Emergency Response System on the evening of Saturday Feb. 2.

Booms and other absorbent materials Tuesday under out-of-use freight engine owned by the Port of Coos Bay was found recently to be leaking oil…

DEQ made contact with the port on Monday, Feb. 4 and they took action to place absorbent material and booms to capture any leaking oil.

Normally an engine sump will catch any oil that accumulates. However, that sump was overflowing with rain water. The sump has been pumped out and absorbent material is in place around the locomotive and in a nearby ditch to catch any seepage.

None of the oil has reached the bay. Some soil on the site has been contaminated and that will need to be excavated. Excavation would involve a shallow scrape of soil along the ditch line to remove oily soil.

DEQ said that it’s too early to determine what sort of penalties the Port might face for the leak, as their first priority is to clean up the affected area.

Another oil release near the same location occurred two years ago, which also resulted in a soil cleanup. The total penalty amount for that oil release was $1,600 to the Coos Bay Rail Link.

According to the Port, the locomotive that caused the release belongs to the former operator of the rail line, not the Port. However, because the spill occurred in the Port's rail yard, the Port worked closely with the owner of the locomotive and DEQ to see the leak was cleaned. 

The Port said that the current leak has since been cleaned up, but pads to soak up oil can still be seen in the rail yard, and the DEQ has not yet completed its excavation of the site. 

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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