ENR DOJ: Jim Sweeney (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888 EPA: Kathryn Smith (202) 564-3252


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $1.5 million civil settlement of Oil Pollution Act claims against the Burlington Northern Railroad Company. The claims arose from three separate oil and hazardous waste spills -- caused by train derailments -- including one that forced the evacuation of approximately 50,000 people from nearby Wisconsin and Minnesota towns. Under the settlement, Burlington Northern agreed to pay a total of $1.5 million, including a $1.1 million civil penalty under the Oil Pollution Act -- the largest single penalty to date awarded under that statute in a single case. The consent decree, filed late yesterday in a Federal Court in Madison, Wisconsin, also calls for Burlington Northern to spend $1.2 million for derailment prevention technology. The company will purchase three ultrasonic rail inspection cars which will improve the company's ability to detect rail defects and prevent derailments like those that caused the three spills. "This tough penalty proves that we aim to enforce the Oil Pollution Act vigorously," said Lois J. Schiffer, the Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "To its credit, Burlington Northern chose to work with us, not to fight, and agreed to prevent, not pollute. I hope this settlement puts its relationship with the people of Wisconsin and Wyoming back on track. "Today's settlement is a good example of how the federal government uses creative settlement features to promote prevention and enhance future compliance," said Steven A. Herman, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The Wisconsin spill occurred on June 30, 1992, after a BN

train derailed near the town of Superior, Wisconsin, spilling nearly 22,000 gallons of aromatic concentrates into the Nemadji River. These concentrates contained various volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and toluene, two hazardous substances. The two Wyoming derailments occurred in January and May, 1993, one near scenic Wendover Canyon and Guernsey, the other near Worland. Together the accidents spilled more than 3,400 barrels of oil into the North Platte River and a tributary of the Bighorn River. United States Attorney, Peggy A. Lautenschlager, of Madison, Wisconsin stated that "The settlement terms in this case not only penalize Burlington Northern for the spills, but more importantly provide remedial measures which will minimize the chance of similar spills occurring in the future. Likewise, part of the settlement funds will be designated for restoration of natural resources which may have been damaged by the spill." BN's $1.5 million payment accounts for the $1.1 million civil penalty, plus $260,000 to reimburse EPA and other federal agencies for their costs in responding to the Wisconsin spill, and a $140,000 contribution to a fund managed jointly by the Department of Interior, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewas and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas for injury to natural resources caused by the Nemadji spill. Burlington Northern will also pay $100,000 into a fund to be used to study internal rail defects of the type involved in the Nemadji and Worland derailments. ###