KCS Engine 503 to be removed

Photo by Kyle Swearingen

Update: The Port Arthur City Council has moved to move the train from one side of the park to the other to remediate the ground under it. It will also delay further action pending proposals.

After an oily substance was found leaking from the Kansas City Southern Engine 503 on display in in Bryan Park, the city of Port Arthur in a press release Friday, Feb. 16, said time constraints, safety concerns, the deteriorating condition of the train, as well as the presence of asbestos and lead based paint, have left the city with no viable alternative but to award a contract that will included remediation of the liquid, abatement of the asbestos, excavation of the soil, and removal of the train.

The city says that just after Tropical Storm Harvey, an oily substance was found in Bryan Park and the surrounding area that was traced to KCS Engine 503. Consultant Total Safety Inc. was hired to investigate the train, and Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations mandated that the spills must be immediately remediated and the soil under the train excavated. TCEQ gave the city of Port Arthur a March 6 deadline to accomplish remediation of the oil spill. Failure to do so would have placed the city in the position of being issued an enforcement order by TCEQ and a possible fine, the press release said.

A visual observation had also revealed exposed insulation in the train, prompting a test for the presence of asbestos, and in October 2017, results confirmed that the insulation contained asbestos levels above any acceptable limit. It was also determined that the train contained lead-based paint. The train was also in a severe state of disrepair and deterioration. Abatement of the asbestos was the only responsible alternative.

During the months of September and October 2017, KCS Railroad was contacted locally and at corporate headquarters. Inquiry was made as to its interest in re-acquiring the train, but KCS declined the city’s offer. Later in October, the Texas Transportation Museum and others were contacted in an effort to obtain the cost of full restoration of the train, which was estimated at $150,000 to $500,000.

— City of Port Arthur