March 16, 2001 11:00 pm

A Union Pacific Railroad locomotive, leaking fuel early Tuesday morning as it passed through Union County, lost an estimated 1,500 gallons, not the 500 gallons originally thought.

Mike Furtney, a spokesman for the railroad who is based in San Francisco, said Friday the locomotive is believed to have started leaking a steady, small stream of fuel about 10 miles south of Baker City, near milepost 315 along Interstate 84.

The locomotive was stopped for repairs just west of La Grande.

The railroad says the fuel was dispersed along the railroad tracks over about 40 miles, with only two known accumulations of 200 to 300 gallons.

One of the pools of leaked fuel is near the La Grande depot, where the locomotive was stopped for repairs. The other leak is near milepost 315, where the leak apparently started.

The leaking locomotive came to public attention when La Grande police responded to early morning calls Tuesday about an odor behind the Shady Nook Apartments. Police also found diesel fuel on the railroad tracks in Union.

Furtney said the railroad company is working closely with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the leaked diesel fuel.

Where the fuel can be found, the contaminated soil is being being removed, he said.

He didnt have an estimate of when the job would be completed.