When I discovered the creosote spill I am reporting on today, I contacted the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (WSOR), WI Department of Natural Resources, and the US Dept of Agriculture Forest Products Lab. Information about creosote spills are direct quotes from the US Commerce Department.
WSOR thanked me for contacting them. An official there said, "We are not aware of any spill that you reference...." WSOR told me they didn't have "any contractors or employees over this bridge with creosote to cause a spill ... regardless, we will send a bridge supervisor out to the site...."
Where might the creosote come from? I asked the Forest Products Lab in Madison. Stan Lebow, a technologist in Durability and Wood Protection Research, said that sometimes wooden railroad cross ties leak creosote, a wood preservative. WSOR has not confirmed to me that this happened.
A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spill investigator says the spill is creosote. The US Commerce Department says creosote spills can be hazardous to the environment, "contaminating ground water and nearby streams"
Bottom line, the DNR says the Railroad is going to clean up the spill. WSOR also has a company wide plan for "enviromental preservation."