In this photo provided by the Jackman-Moose River Fire & Rescue Department, rubble burns after several cars on a freight train derailed in rural Maine, Saturday, April 15, 2023. Credit: William Jarvis / Jackman-Moose River Fire & Rescue Department via AP

Fuel, hydraulic fluid and engine oil have saturated soil and are moving into nearby Moose River near the freight train derailment in rural Somerset County, Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection confirmed Tuesday.

The DEP said it is working with Canadian Pacific Kansas City railroad to remove the oil using absorbent material. The railroad has sent its oil spill response team to the site about 15 miles east of Jackman near Rockwood where the train derailed Saturday morning.

Seven train cars, including three locomotives and four lumber cars, received significant fire damage and are still at the location. The hazardous materials on two other derailed cars were removed over the weekend and did not leak, the DEP said.

The Bangor Daily News first reported Monday that the leak had entered nearby waterways. The DEP said the engine oil, hydraulic fluid and fuel have saturated the soil onsite and are moving into the nearby Moose River, which feeds into the Brassua Lake.

“This is contributing to an oil sheen that is visible from the derailment site to the lake,” DEP Deputy Commissioner David Madore said in a statement. He said Canadian Pacific Kansas City railroad is responsible for paying for the cleanup.

Madore said the DEP and railroad are working to assess how much fluid is present. Biologists from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife also were surveying the area on Tuesday to assess any potential harm to wildlife. Brassua Lake is known for its brook trout and salmon fishing.

The focus now is to contain and clean up the oil that has spilled into the waterway and remove the remaining rail cars to minimize further oil saturating the soil. The train cars derailed in a remote, forested area. Maine DEP’s HazMat Response team is working on the scene to assess and monitor environmental impacts. The extent of the leak and cleanup timing were not known.

After the site has been cleared of wreckage debris and a comprehensive assessment of environmental damage has been conducted, the DEP will require the contaminated soil to be removed.

The spring thaw is making it harder to clean up the area because large equipment must be brought to the site. The railway has already filled in a logging road with gravel to help smooth transport.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...