Derailment Clean Up Seen From The Air; Cause Still Unknown - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/5/07-Chandler

Derailment Clean Up Seen From The Air; Cause Still Unknown

From the sky you can see the magnitude of the task that crews have ahead of them. One spot near the scene still smoldering from Sunday night's fire.

Fresh panels of railroad tracks have been brought it to help haul the damaged cars away.

"We lay them down on the ballast which is the rock material under the track and we weld it all together and can run trains through there at a slow speed and get things in and out," says Union Pacific Railroad Public Information Officer Joe Arbona.

Also seen from the sky is some of the lube oil that spilled into Lake Palestine, creating a glossy sheen.

The oil was contained using these orange booms and it could be several thousand gallons that have to be sucked out of the lake.

"What we've been told is that approximately 23,000 gallons spilled out of the tanker. What fell into the slew is 0 and 23,000," says Arbona.

Officials are saying the water is safe to drink. But environmental officials will continue their water testing through the week.

"Everything that leaked was below [where we're fishing]. Going down [toward the accident site] I'm not so sure. I'll do my fishing down this way," says Tilmon Hill who spent the morning fishing on nearby Neches River.

It was business as usual for fishers along Neches River. As for wildlife in the water, Texas Parks and Wildlife says there's no reason to believe the fish are contaminated.

"If it bites a hook and is in good shape and fights like fish, then that fish is going to be okay," says Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Chris Green.

Just east of the derailment site, you can see grooves in the rail ties, which appears to be evidence that the wheels came off the track around this point.

Union Pacific is not willing to speculate.

Arbona says, "What made the wheel come off the track is the cause, we got to figure out where that is."

With no answer to a cause yet, officials feel they are still on track to solve the mystery behind this derailment and keep something like this from happening again.

Another resource Union Pacific has is the event recorder, which is like what the black box is to an airplane.

They hope it will shed some light on the moments leading up to the derailment.

City of Tyler late this afternoon said it's restarted its Lake Palestine Water Treatment Plant.

Again, water for Tyler residents is safe to drink.

Christine Nelson, Reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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