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Lovell Chronicle
Lovell , Wyoming
May 20, 2010     Lovell Chronicle
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May 20, 2010

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8 I The Lovell Chronicle I May 20, 2010 www.LovellChronicle.com 'I BP, xD DVeREAUX Bob Martens digs out a Roundup Ready sugar beet seed that has yet to sprout in a field at his Lovell farm last week. Growers were affected tby freezing temperatures in early May causing about 2,500 acres to be replanted in Park and Big Horn Counties. BY BRAD DEVEREAUX After some low temper- atures two weeks ago, some area beet farmers were forced to replant their crop while others chose to leave their planted fields alone. Either way, the beet grow- ing season is moving ahead and farmers are optimistic for a good year. Lovell farmer Bob Mar- tens said though the couple of nights when it dropped to about 22 degrees will prob- ably hurt his overall yield, the potential loss isn't enough to re-plant. Martens said the young sugar beet plants are most vulnerable just aider they come out of the ground be- fore straightening out. He said most of his plants were past the vulnerable stage and were able to survive the brief low temps. He planted his fields April 14 and be- gan irrigating April 22. Though he expects his yields to drop from the de- sired 140 to 160 plants per 100 feet of row to around 100 beets, he said the more spaced-out beets should get a little bigger than expect- ed. Nearby at Heart Moun- tain, Ric Rodriguez said his crop was hit harder by the weather, causing him to re- plant about 95 percent of his beets. "The ground was wet and it froze two or three inches down," Rodriguez said, adding that the freeze affected beets both above and below the soil. He fin- ished replanting this week and some of the new seeds he started a week ago are already sprouting, thanks to the warm weather. "It's early enough that you can get in and get things replanted right away," he said. Western Sugar Agricul- turist Mark Bjornsted said about 2,500 acres are be- ing replanted in Park and Big Horn Counties, about 15 percent of the total sug- ar crop in the area. He said farms west of Powell that were higher in elevation with lower temperatures were affected the most by the cold. Bjornsted has been responding to calls from farmers to assess damages at their farms and making recommendations either to re-plant or hold out until harvest. "It's basically a num- bers game of how many plants you have and what's acceptable and what isn't," Bjornsted said. "The major- ity of farmers have enough to make a crop. I make a recommendation and the farmers make a decision." He said most farmers who chose to re-plant will be finished by the end of this week. Though 15 percent is slightly above average for re-planting, "I still feel things could turn out to be a very good crop at this point," Bjornsted said. BY KARLA POMEROY The many fish in the Big Horn River appear to have survived the contam- ination of diesel fuel into their watery habitat last week. Wyoming Game and Fish Regional Fisheries Su- pervisor Steve Yekel said upon hearing about the Burlington Northern train derailment on Wednesday they responded to complete an initial investigation into the health of the fish. "We saw no dead or stressed fish," Yekel said. He said they did find dead invertebrates, however. "We believe the diesel was diluted with the large flows in the river. Diesel tends to float on the sur- face. I think the only mix- ing came in the ripples. That might have been the contributing factor to why we're seeing the dead inver- tebrates," Yekel said. "That's the immediate impact," he said. "We'll be looking at the long term, as well." If the contamination killed a lot of the inverte- brates, that hurts the fish food production, Yekel said, which means there might not be the growth in the fish that G&F normally sees. "We won't know until we sample in the fall when we normally sample that area," he said. "If we don't see the additional growth it usually means a higher winter mortality." He said they won't be doing any additional mon- itoring of the area unless they receive reports of large numbers of dead or dying fish. Scott and the other occu- pant of the locomotive, con- ductor Brett Prettyman of Casper, barely managed to pull themselves from the lo- comotive before it filled with water. "It was the worst train ride of my life," said Scott, who was "still pretty sore" when contacted Monday -- five days after the acci- dent. The train, which con- sisted of two locomotives and approximately 65 cars, hit the boulder shortly after noon about a mile into the canyon. Scott said he was going about 30 miles per hour and negotiating a curve when Prettyman yelled, "Rock!" -- and then a second later, "Big rock!" "That' when it came into view for me -- it was about a tenth of a mile away," Scott said. BAWD Cargo spills from a railroad car as a BNSF repair crew pulls the car up the embankment on the western shore of the Wind River in Wind River Canyon Friday morning. DERAILMENT According to the Asso- ciated Press the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe freight train hit a large boulder in Wind River Canyon, spill- ing some diesel but causing no injuries. The AP reported the incident occurred about six miles south of Thermop- olis at the north end of the canyon. A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper patrolling U.S. 20/WYO 789 in the Wind River Canyon wit- nessed the derailment into the Big Horn River shortly after noon on Wednesday. After the derailment the two engineers aboard the locomotive were able to climb out the side window of the lead locomotive as the cab filled with water. The two were able to make their way to the safety of the hill- side. The Trooper and the engineers were able to yell back and forth to each other across the river and the two engineers advised they had no serious injuries. The incident began when the trooper noticed a huge rock resting on the rail line in the canyon. The trooper notified the Wyo- ming Highway Patrol Dis- patch Center in Cheyenne who in turn was on the phone notifying Burlington Northern of the blocked rail. The Trooper estimated the rock to be about eight feet across and six feet gh. Before Burlington Northern could make noti- fication to their personnel, a southbound train struck the rock. Both lead loco- motives and the first three cars derailed with the lead locomotive going into the Big Horn River. The Big Horn River sep- arates highway US 20/WYO 789 and the railroad line and the trooper was unable to cross the river. Accord- ing to the Wyoming High- way Patrol press release, it has been determined that the locomotives were spill- ing diesel fuel from their fuel tanks into the river. In addition, the first rail car behind the locomotives was loaded with bentonite, which was also spilling into the river. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT Big Horn County Emer- gency Management Coor- dinator John Hyde said his office was contacted Wednesday about the de- railment and spill. In an interview Friday he said, "As of yesterday, late afternoon, everything was apparently fine. They had set up a staging area and the regional hazmat re- sponse team and BN clean- up team had begun the cleanup." He said response team members or BN of- ficials would contact Big Horn County if something changed and there was ad- ditional concern. "Our immediate concern was the canals. From what people on the ground have told us, everything's been taken care of," Hyde said. Continued from page 1 Scott said he immedi- ately applied the emergency brake, and both he and Pret- tyman "put our feet up and held on tight" as they braced for the crash. " The boulder, ,about-8 feet by 6 feet," had fallen from the rain and snow- soaked canyon wall, approx- imately six miles south of Thermopolis. Scott said everything from that point "happened pretty fast," but said he re- calls the locomotive coming off the rail, hopping on the railroad tie and then start- ing to lean off the shoulder. "When the locomotive started to tip over, I opened the window, thinking we'd need a way to get out of here," he said. "It was a hor- rible noise -- the sound of the side of the locomotive scraping on the rocks." As the locomotive plunged downward into the river, Scott recalls the fuel tank being torn open, and the cabin filling with a mix of water and diesel fuel. "I had grabbed onto my brake and throttle handle -- it was like I was dangling off a cliff," Scott said. "I couldn't see what was happening to my conductor underneath me." Within three to five sec- onds, the cab was full "up to a foot of the window," Scott said. "Both our heads were under the water at one point." The next few moments were the most harrowing, as Scott can recall slipping as he attempted to get out of the locomotive. "I remember thinking, Tou.know, I'm going to die here. I'm never going to see myson agamY Fortunately, it nev- er came to that. Scott was able to pull himself partially out of the window and was pulled the rest of the way out by Prettyman. From there, they pro- ceeded to walk on the loco- motive to the river bank, then UP to the track. "We looked down at the mess,4 T sked Brett -Iow did we through this?' It was a pretty scary ride." Cold, wet and wearing only T-shirts, the men man- aged to build a fire, and with: in a couple of hours, firemen were able to get to them. They were then rushed to the hospital in Thermopolis, where they were treated and released. The derailment resulted in the spilling of up to 6,800 gallons of diesel fuel into the Big Horn River. Working around the clock, workers were able to remove the four freight cars and the two locomotives late last week. i- !: ! Please join us in celebrating the esteemed career of Dick Loegering at the Bank of Lovell Retwement Party Open House When: Time: Thursday, June 3rd I pm Any decorated Graduation or Any Deli Tray order (12". 16"- 18") Expires 5/25/2010 9 E. Main Lovell, WY h= ~L