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Agencies working to clean up after derailment, hydrochloric acid spill (with video)

Monitoring is ongoing at the site of the Union Pacific Railroad train derailment over the weekend as crews work to mitigate the effects of a hydrochloric acid spill in Goose Lake.

Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall said all of the derailed cars have been removed from the Union Pacific property along the lake and moved to a staging area off of Hawthorne Street.

Cathy Malakowsky, communication strategist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said after the five tanker cars carrying liquid propane gas — none of which leaked — and the three damaged cars that carried hydrochloric acid were removed from the derailment site, responders applied soda ash to soil impacted by the hydrochloric acid spill.

After neutralizing the acid in the soil, responders removed 350 cubic yards of impacted soil to a lined cell in a temporary staging area for processing before disposal.

Responders also crushed limestone in Goose Lake by boat on Tuesday to raise the pH to a healthier level for fish and other aquatic life, Malakowsky said.

Though there has not been a recent fish kill observed in the lake, water monitoring showed a pH of 2.0 to 3.0, which is below the level of 6.0 to 8.0 needed to sustain aquatic life.

She planned to have more information later Wednesday about whether the treatments succeeded or additional treatments would be needed.

Authorities stated 40,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid spilled during the derailment, which took place Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the MPCA and the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, other agencies that have been involved in the response include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Department of Interior and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The investigation into the cause of the derailment is still ongoing.