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25 Jun, 2023 11:54

Train with chemicals slides into Montana river

Seven cars that fell into the water contained molten sulfur and hot asphalt, local authorities have said
Train with chemicals slides into Montana river

A train carrying potentially hazardous materials has derailed in the US State of Montana, with several cars ending up in the water, authorities said on Saturday. Montana Rail Link, the company operating the train, said there were no injuries.

In a statement on Facebook, Stillwater County’s Disaster and Emergency Services Department (DES) said the incident occurred at about 6am local time on a bridge over the Yellowstone River, which collapsed. In total, three cars containing hot asphalt and four cars carrying molten sulfur crashed into the water, it added.

The department said the cause of the incident remains unclear, and declined to speculate on whether the bridge collapse had led to the derailment, or vice versa.

Meanwhile, Montana Rail Link said the train also included two cars with sodium hydrosulfate, an extremely corrosive substance, but that neither of those made contact with the water.

It stated that “initial air quality assessments have been performed and confirmed that there is no release event associated with those two cars.”

The DES noted that there is “no expected HAZMAT [hazardous materials] impact to Stillwater County towns,” adding that air and water monitoring efforts in the area are continuing.

Despite the reassuring statements, local authorities have asked people in the area to conserve water, explaining that water treatment facilities “have instituted emergency protective measures… due to a potential hazmat spill.”

The Montana derailment comes after several similar incidents across the US, including one in Ohio in early February. At the time, the Norfolk Southern-operated train, which was carrying toxic chemicals and combustible materials, went off track and caught fire in the village of East Palestine, prompting a mass evacuation in the area.

Later, officials decided to carry out a controlled burn on site to prevent an explosion, which triggered fears of severe environmental contamination in nearby towns.