Deal Reached in Herington Spill Incident

The Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act in Herington.

According to the EPA, the agency has reached a proposed administrative settlement to resolve violations at the Herington Railyard. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $24,000 and complete a Supplemental Environmental Project valued at $338,100.

In January 2012, two railroad tank cars at the Herington facility collided, leading to the release of 11,000 gallons of sulfuric acid. About 1,500 gallons were contained in a ditch, but the remainder flowed through an adjoining ditch and discharged into Lime Creek. The discharge impacted an estimated two miles of Lime Creek and resulted in a fish kill.

In addition to the civil penalty, Union Pacific will be required to complete a Supplemental Environmental Project to install earthen berms, flow barriers, and manually-operated drop gates that will seek to minimize runoff and releases from reaching Lime Creek. A SEP is intended to be a project that produces environmental or public health and safety benefits, earning partial credit by EPA to offset the cost of the penalty. This project is estimated to cost $338,100.

Union Pacific also paid $155,300 to the state of Kansas in restitution for damage to the state’s natural resources in August 2013.

The proposed settlement with Union Pacific is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. The comment period began Nov. 15, 2016, and ends Dec. 15, 2016.

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