On Jan. 6, a contractor at Bailey Yard accidently mixed some aluminum chloride with coolant for locomotive engines in a tank car near the diesel shop.The mixture created a yellow vapor that rose from the top of the tanker.
A large crew from Haz-Mat Response Inc. of North Platte removed around 7,000 gallons of the mix and hauled it away. Haz-Mat worked all afternoon Jan. 6 and until 2 p.m. Jan. 7, pumping the chemicals out of the tank car, UP spokesman Mark Davis said at the time.
To find out where the material ultimately went, Bulletin reporter Jay Huff checked with every source our staff could think of from Jan. 9-13, but we couldn’t find out where the materials went.
The Bulletin published a report of our investigation in the weekly paper, listing the phone calls Huff made, and lack of answers, from Haz-Mat Response Inc., from the Union Pacific hazardous waste manager at Bailey Yard, from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and from Clean Harbors, a hazardous waste dump near Kimball.
We published the report again on March 5 on our website, which elicited a response from Union Pacific.
UP spokesman Mark Davis said the hazardous liquid is in a concrete tank in Bailey Yard, awaiting the results of a laboratory test. Davis said the information came from Kim Keeling, the Bailey Yard hazardous waste manager.
Citing Keeling, Davis said the liquid was neutralized with an additive after it was pumped off the tanker car.
"The solidified non hazardous material is staged in concrete contained area in the yard," he said.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is conducting a test to verify non-toxicity, Davis said.
Brian McManus, NDEQ spokesman, said on March 7 that the material has been tested under the supervision of NDEQ. McManus expects the results to be final sometime during the week of March 10.
It is still unknown why no officials would say where the material was when contacted by the Bulletin during the days after the trouble.
Davis, who otherwise was helpful, did not respond to that question.
When Huff first contacted NDEQ, an employee there said DEQ knew that vapors were released Jan. 6 into the air, but did not know where the material was.
When we asked McManus why DEQ didn't know, he said simply, “there hadn’t been a discussion between Union Pacific and the NDEQ," so no one with DEQ knew where the material was.