Kootenai River Train Derailment

Site Contact:
Eric Vanderboom


Site Location:
Katka, ID 83805
NRC#: 1267737

At 9pm on January 1, 2020, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) general cargo train derailed near Katka, Idaho. The derailment happened on the bank of the Kootenai River. One locomotive is in the Kootenai River, and one is on the bank of the river partially in the water. Diesel from one or more locomotives is leaking into the Kootenai River. BNSF has contractors on scene, and they have begun placing containment boom in the river. The tracks have a rock cliff on one side and the bank of the river on the other, making access very difficult. It appears a rockslide caused the derailment.

Local and state law enforcement are on scene. Boundary County Sheriff’s Marine rescue crews were able to retrieve the stranded train crew. The Kootenai Tribe manages a fish hatchery downstream from the incident, and they have shut their water intake. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has sent two field responders to the scene.

OSC Eric Vanderboom is expected to be on scene January 2, 2020. EPA has notified the Kootenai Tribe, and the US Department of the Interior.