Plans set to remove train from river

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Photo by DYLAN GREENE An attemp to remove the derailed BNSF locomotive to the north shore of the river may happen this weekend.

MOYIE SPRINGS — Only one locomotive remains at the site of the BNSF derailment that occurred on Jan. 1, but plans are underway to begin the precarious removal process, possibly as soon as this weekend.

The locomotive that was on the embankment was removed on Jan. 13, and it joined the first locomotive that was removed, in Crosspoint. This leaves the locomotive still submerged in the Kootenai River.

“Work is underway to bring out two large ground hoists and about eight bulldozers to help remove the lead locomotive from the river,” said Courtney Wallace, spokeswoman for BNSF Railway.

According to Wallace, they will attempt the removal on Jan. 26, but that will depend on circumstances, such as weather.

The process of removal will require multiple steps involving heavy equipment on shore, and divers in the water.

“We are going to use airbags that are going to be placed by a dive team,” said Wallace. “The plan is to lift the locomotive off the bottom, then float it to the north shore and place it over there.”

Once the locomotive is over on the north shore, BNSF will have divers scour the river bottom to make sure that nothing remains from the derailment.

“We are working with the DEQ, EPA, and other appropriate agencies to make sure that all the appropriate environmental safeguards and safety protocols are in place,” said Wallace.

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