Train Carrying Hazardous Materials Derails, Cars Fall into Yellowstone River

The derailment spilled hot asphalt and molten sulfur into the Yellowstone River.

A Montana Rail Link freight train derailed on Saturday, plunging several cars full of hazardous materials into the Yellowstone River, which has resulted in an ongoing cleanup operations and concerns about potential health risks for area residents.

Media reports indicate 10 cars on a Montana Rail Line freight train derailed Saturday morning after a bridge collapsed while the train was traveling near Columbus, Montana.

Two of the rail cars contained sodium hydrosulfide, which were of immediate concern due to flammability. However, those cars did not fall into the river itself and have been recovered and re-railed. Other cars that did fall into the river contained hot asphalt and molten sulfur.

When hot sulfur is combined with water, it creates sulfuric acid, but local safety experts claim it will be diluted enough by the river not to have any long-term effects. However, monitoring has detected globs of hot asphalt floating downstream, which is dangerous because of its high heat. The material is moving slowly downstream and cooling.

Crews began cleanup operations on Sunday, and local environmental officials and Montana Rail Link say they expect the environmental effects and dangers to the public are minimal. No injuries have been reported in connection with the train derailment.

Norfolk Southern Ohio Toxic Train Derailment

The incident comes amid increased concerns nationwide about contamination risks following train derailments, following a crash earlier this year near East Palestine, Ohio, which resulted in the evacuation of about 2,000 people and led to concerns about water contamination and public health.

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On February 3, a massive Norfolk Southern train derailed near Ohio and Pennsylvania borders, resulting in 20 tankers full of toxic chemicals being breached and catching fire. This caused a temporary evacuation of nearly 2,000 local residents, and there have been growing reports of illnesses at the East Palestine train derailment site, as well as a number of animal deaths and concerns about water, soil and air contamination in a wide area around the accident location.

While the crash investigation continues, and health experts evaluate the long-term health risks, Norfolk Southern toxic train derailment lawsuits are being filed by those impacted, including claims for economic damages, medical monitoring and personal injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board has announced that it launched a special investigation into Norfolk Southern’s safety practices, and called on the company to immediately begin reviewing its procedures and culture.


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