HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Work is underway to clean up railcars carrying hazardous materials that fell into the Yellowstone River in southern Montana after a bridge collapsed over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
Montana Rail Link is developing a cleanup plan and is working with its unions and BNSF Railway to divert freight trains in the area to limit supply chain disruption, Beth Archer of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said in a statement. set issued by Montana Rail. Link and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Contractors and a large crane were on site to stabilize and remove the cars from the river once a plan is in place, authorities said.
Some cars that did not run off the tracks were removed from the area, and two cars carrying sodium hydrosulfide transferred their contents to other cars and moved to a safe location, Archer said.
Sixteen cars derailed and 10 of them ended up in the river downstream of Yellowstone National Park on Saturday morning.
Six wrecked cars carrying hot asphalt, three with molten sulfur and one with scrap metal remained in rushing water Monday in an area surrounded by farmland near the city of Columbus, about 40 miles (about 64 kilometers) west. of Billings.
Two of the cars were submerged and a dive team was deployed to gather more information, Archer said in a statement.
The asphalt and sulfur solidified and sank in the cold water, authorities said. Some asphalt globules were found downstream, but they are not soluble in water and are not expected to affect water quality, the statement said.
Initial water testing on behalf of the EPA and DEQ showed no impact of petroleum hydrocarbons or sulfur on water quality or any threat to drinking water, DEQ spokesman Kevin Stone said Sunday.
The cause of the collapse was under investigation. Part of the train had crossed the bridge before failing, and some carriages at the rear remained on stable ground at the far end. No injuries were reported.
The collapse also cut two important fiber optic lines. Global Net said late Sunday that it had developed a temporary solution. Company officials did not return a call Monday seeking more information.
The White House was monitoring the situation and was prepared to offer any federal help that might be needed, spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said Monday.
The derailment occurs just over four months after a derailed freight train near East Palestine, Ohio, sparking a fire that caused evacuations and the eventual burning of hazardous materials to prevent an uncontrolled explosion.
freight car inspections are performed less frequentlyunion officials testified last week during a congressional hearing on the Ohio derailment.
Jean-Pierre said the US Department of Transportation is looking at ways to prevent derailments.
The government has been “getting to work,” he said.