Alaska Railroad agrees to pay penalty, upgrade equipment

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska Railroad Corp. has agreed to pay the federal government $150,000 and upgrade emergency response equipment because of a 1999 derailment and fuel spill about 40 miles north of Talkeetna.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Matt Carr, the agency's federal on-scene coordinator for the spill, described the settlement as ''fairly significant.''

The settlement was reached after about six months of negotiations.

The new equipment will help the company respond better to future incidents, said railroad spokesman Patrick Flynn.

Flynn called the fine relatively low and said it reflects the company's cleanup of 94 percent of the fuel.

Under terms of the settlement, the railroad will make the cash payment and will create a rolling command center by installing rail wheels on a refurbished ambulance to make it capable of responding to remote rail emergencies. The cost of those improvements is at least $25,000, according to the railroad.

Ten tanker cars on an Anchorage-bound fuel train derailed at 1 a.m. on Oct. 31 when a rail rolled under the train's locomotive. A few cars spilled about 12,500 gallons of jet fuel, some of which flowed down the Indian River into a series of beaver ponds.

The federal government got involved because the Clean Water Act applied, Carr said.

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