Train Spills 4,000 Gallons of Diesel in the West Branch of the Delaware

Written by: Eddie Sanchez


Early Thursday morning, a train derailment occurred near Hale Eddy bridge–a famed stretch of prime trout water on the West Branch of the Delaware River–spilling almost 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the river. These are my home waters.

Large storms the day before had the river flowing at almost 6,000 cfs at the time of derailment. There are mixed reports as of yet to the extent of the environmental impact, but it seems that the high flows might have helped flush the fuel downstream. Fuel slicks have been reported for more than 15 miles downstream. Luckily, because of high flows, there is expected to be very little impact on the fishery. However, the impact on the ecosystem as a whole has yet to be seen.


Eddie Sanchez with a Delaware system rainbow.
Photo courtesy Eddie Sanchez

As recently as 2012, the Delaware was named the fifth-most polluted river in the United States. A multi-coalition effort to cleanup pollution has restored significant portions of the river, but there is still work to be done. Four states rely on a clean Delaware for their drinking water. That affects more than 15 million people.

This isn’t the first spill on the Delaware, and it won’t be the last. The biggest impact of spills like this may be on the bird population. As an angler and a lover of the outdoors, stories like this recent spill break my heart.


The Delaware needs our vigilance to ensure its health.
Photo courtesy Eddie Sanchez

Conservation and fly fishing go hand in hand. Trout are sensitive, and their survival depends on smart, conservation-minded efforts to make the changes needed to protect their habitats. It’s up to us—the people that love these wild places—to take the steps needed to ensure the future of our fisheries. Find the front lines on your local water. Get involved. Pack it out. Vote for the environment. Our voices together are louder than on their own.

Eddie Sanchez calls the Catskill Mountains of New York home. He’s an ambassador for Brown Folks Fishing. When he’s not on the water you’ll find him on his mountain bike or snowboard. Check him out on instagram

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