April 5, 2021
Derailed train sitting next to track in the sunset


US Ecology was called upon by a long-time rail customer to respond to a crude oil train derailment and fire that occurred in December 2020 about 100 miles north of Seattle in the rural community of Custer, WA.

The initial response crew arrived on site to find eight tank cars adjacent to the track and on fire. The first phase of the response consisted of working alongside the customer and local fire department to extinguish the blaze. The subsequent phase of work was performed over several days and involved planning and site preparation for the safe recovery and transfer of 210,000+ gallons of oil from the disabled tank cars. After conducting sampling and analysis of the soil around the track, US Ecology excavated and removed 1,500+ cubic yards of contaminated soil which was then transported off-site for disposal.

Knowing that an inoperable track can cost a railroad millions of dollars a day in lost revenue, US Ecology crews worked diligently and efficiently to help the customer resume freight operations as quickly as possible, which was achieved in less than 72 hours. Overall, the response consisted of innumerable pieces of equipment and 78 team members who worked 3,354 man-hours without any recordable safety incidents.