Railroad Bridge Collapse Near Columbus, Tanker Cars in River
6:30 p.m. Sunday Update from Montana Rail Link:
Transloading of the sodium hydrosulfide car nearest the river has been completed successfully and the car will be re-railed and moved to a secure location. This process entails moving the contents from one rail car to another rail car or truck. We are aware of reports of globs of asphalt appearing down river that may be associated with the derailment and we will proactively investigate and sample this material. Water quality sampling is being performed by a contractor on behalf of Montana Rail Link with oversight by Montana DEQ and EPA. Preliminary results do not show petroleum hydrocarbons or sulfur impacts to water quality. Water quality testing will continue until the cleanup is complete and at this time there are no known risks to public drinking water. Sprint and its contractors are on site to repair a damaged fiber line associated with the incident. As of this afternoon, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials have also arrived onsite to assist in reviewing the incident.
We are appreciative of Governor Gianforte and the First Lady’s visit to the site this afternoon, along with the messages received from members of Montana’s Congressional delegation. Additional equipment, including a large crane, will be brought on site later this evening to assist with construction and remediation efforts. Site cleanup and remediation will be an extensive process, but we are committed to working closely with all of our local, state, and federal partners to perform all required work in a safe and efficient manner.”
3PM Saturday Update from Montana Rail Link:
Please find an update regarding today’s derailment below. We will work to provide additional updates as available:
“Initial assessment indicates compromised rail cars contained molten sulfur and asphalt. Both substances solidify rapidly when exposed to cooler temperatures. Two cars carrying sodium hydro sulfate are also included in the consist. Neither of these cars have entered the water and initial air quality assessments have been performed and confirmed that there is no release event associated with those two cars. The present focus of operations is safely responding to the emergency, controlling all releases and mitigating impacts. Throughout the response MRL will work with local, state and federal partners to assess impacts to natural resources and to develop appropriate cleanup, removal and restoration efforts.”
Update Saturday Afternoon: According to Stillwater Co DES 3 cars contained hot asphalt and 4 cars contained molten sulfur.
A dispatcher with the Stillwater County Sheriff's office tells us that the 911 call came in at 6:12 Saturday morning. A railroad bridge collapsed between Reed Point and Columbus, Montana with multiple tanker cars in the Yellowstone River. The dispatcher tells us that no injuries were reported.
Update 12:39 p.m. Saturday according to KTVQ.com:
Two of the rail cars contained "acidic chemicals," but officials said those cars were not breached.
David Stamey with Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services sent out the following information early Saturday morning:
On 24 June 2023 at approximately 0600 there was a train derailment on the rail bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River in Stillwater County Montana. The bridge collapsed and there are multiple rail cars in the Yellowstone River. We have not determined the cause of the derailment.
Currently Stillwater County Emergency Services, Sheriff's Office, Commissioners, Columbus Fire & Rescue are on scene with Montana Rail Link and other State agencies.
We ask everyone to keep away from the areas around the Yellowstone River Rail Bridge, located around Reed Point.
A total of 8 rail cars are involved and in a great stroke of luck, none contained oil.
City of Laurel: With the unfortunate train derailment, the city of Laurel, to protect its citizens has had to shut down the water plant because of unknown chemicals coming down the river. Please conserve water usage until the problem is resolved.
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