Broken rail blamed for causing hazardous train derailment in Richland County
Seven of the 31 derailed cars leaked hazardous materials. Environmental workers say the hazardous materials have been contained.
WYNDMERE, N.D. — Thirty-one cars from a Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway train derailed on Sunday, March 26, leaking hazardous materials in a rural area of Richland County, southeast of Wyndmere, North Dakota.
Seven of the 31 cars spilled hazardous materials when the train derailed around 11:15 p.m., which CP investigators blame on a broken rail. The train had a total of 61 cars.
CP spokesman Andy Cummings said no one was injured in the crash and no fires were started. With no waterways nearby, no evacuations were ordered either, Cummings added.
The train derailed in Ed Goerger's yard. However, he did not know that until the Wyndmere Fire District Chief Andy Thompson woke him up at 4:30 a.m. to ask if they could use his yard as a staging area.
"I happened to be down in the basement so no, I didn't hear anything at all," Goerger said.
Bill Klosterman lives a mile away and heard the derailment.
"Well, I was in the bedroom and it sounded like somebody threw something really pretty heavy right on the floor. That's what it seemed to me like it was," Klosterman said.
Investigators determined four cars spilled liquid asphalt, which is used in road construction. Two cars with Ethylene glycol, an odorless and flammable liquid used in many consumer products, spilled part of their loads. A car carrying Propylene, which is an extremely flammable fuel gas with a pungent smell punctured, releasing some vapors into the air before being plugged.
"There is no threat to public safety," Canadian Pacific said in a statement. "The safety of crews, first responders and the public remains our highest priority. Our hazardous materials experts are continuing a full assessment of the incident in coordination with local first responders."
Cummings said emergency response teams from CP, including hazardous materials experts, were on site Monday morning, along with the Wyndmere fire chief and local first responders, to assess the incident.
"At least there wasn't anything like anhydrous or LP or something real bad you know, that would be a bad deal, especially with this north wind it would be going to my yard you know what I mean, being this close," said Bill Klosterman, who lives a mile away and heard the crash.
CP environmental teams at the site began cleanup work and are working with the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality on a remediation plan.
"I've talked to the CP Claims people and they said there will likely be environmental sampling and studies going on throughout the season to make sure everything is taken care of," said Goerger.
There is no timetable for the cleanup. The rail line could be open by Tuesday.
Wyndmere is about 60 miles southwest of Fargo.