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Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad pays $272,900 for diesel spill in Cow Creek derailment

Release Date: 10/07/2010
Contact Information: Kate Spaulding, EPA NPDES Enforcement, 206-553-5429, Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454,

(Seattle—Oct. 7, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Justice have settled alleged violations of the Clean Water Act by Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad with a civil penalty of $272,900. The violations are associated with a train derailment that resulted in a 4,200 gallon diesel fuel spill to Cow Creek and its adjoining shoreline.

The fuel spill occurred in October 2004 when two diesel locomotives derailed adjacent to Cow Creek near Riddle, Oregon. Cow Creek is a tributary to the South Fork of the Umpqua River, which provides habitat for salmon.

“This spill threatened wildlife habitat and a city’s water supply,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “Regardless of the cause, when oil is discharged to U.S. rivers, lakes or streams, EPA will seek a penalty.”

Chinook and Coho salmon were expected to begin spawning within a week after the spill occurred, though none were seen in the creek at the time of the spill. The spill resulted in the closure of the drinking water plant facility in Riddle, Oregon for two days, and the temporary closure of public schools due to contaminated drinking water.

No corrective measures have been requested because the company has instituted measures to maintain compliance.