Train derailment damages track in Montana, disrupts Amtrac
BLAIR, Mont. - Tracks are estimated to reopen Thursday as crews work to clean up after a BNSF Railway train derailment Tuesday afternoon. Nine rail cars derailed about 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time near Blair, about 50 miles west of Williston, N.D., an...
BLAIR, Mont. – Tracks are estimated to reopen Thursday as crews work to clean up after a BNSF Railway train derailment Tuesday afternoon.
Nine rail cars derailed about 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time near Blair, about 50 miles west of Williston, N.D., and 40 miles east of Wolf Point, Mont., said BNSF spokesman Matt Jones.
The train was not carrying any hazardous materials, but had some empty tank cars with residue of ethyl alcohol and liquefied petroleum gas, Jones said.
The derailed cars remained upright, he said.
The train was carrying a mix of freight and was headed east from Pasco, Wash., to Minneapolis, Jones said.
Crews were working to repair about 1 mile of track that was damaged in the derailment, Jones said. BNSF estimates the track will reopen mid-day Thursday.
BNSF is investigating the cause of the derailment, Jones said. No one was hurt.
Amtrak service was disrupted as a result of the derailment. Buses are transporting passengers to stops between Wolf Point and Minot, N.D., said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
Passengers are experiencing lengthy delays, in some cases as much as 12 hours, Magliari said.
After the tracks reopen, Amtrak will need to adjust equipment before normal service can resume, he said.
Recent derailments and an increase in oil shipments from North Dakota have called attention to the need for training for first-responders to train accidents.
Firefighters who responded to the derailment with the Culbertson Fire Department had completed hazardous materials training about a month ago due to the increase in oil shipments and other rail traffic in the area, said volunteer firefighter Travis Northington.
Firefighters didn’t initially know if the three tank cars that derailed contained hazardous materials, so they proceeded with caution and used what they’d learned in training, he said. The other six cars that derailed were empty box cars, Northington said.
“We stayed at a far distance and made sure it was empty before we proceeded further,” he said.
Six oil tankers derailed near Heimdal, N.D., on May 6, and the fire and smoke plume prompted nearby residents to evacuate the area. Oil tankers also derailed near Casselton, N.D., in December 2013, causing a massive fireball and the voluntary evacuation of the town.