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Train derailment in northern Montana spills freight, but hazmat car safe

Jul 22, 2023, 11:02 AM

In this photo provided by Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services, a railroad worker stands amo...

In this photo provided by Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services, a railroad worker stands among derailed freight cars from a BNSF Railway train that derailed east of Havre, Montana on Friday, July 21, 2023. Local officials said 25 cars derailed but no one was injured. The cause is under investigation. (Amanda Frickel/Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Amanda Frickel/Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services via AP)

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A train derailment in northern Montana spilled freight and left 25 cars tangled up along a major east-west railroad corridor but caused no injuries.

The accident comes less than a month after a railroad bridge collapse in southern Montana sent tanks cars with oil products plunging into the Yellowstone River, spilling molten sulfur and up to 250 tons of asphalt binder.

The latest accident involved a BNSF Railway train that derailed while traveling Friday evening around a curve east of the small town of Havre.

Cleanup and repair work continued Saturday and the cause was under investigation, said Amanda Frickel with Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services.

One car hauling hazardous materials — paint thinner — derailed but did not spill, Frickel said. Cars carrying cake mix, napkins, carrots and other consumer goods broke open and spilled.

The line was expected to come back into service later Saturday, she said. Representatives of Texas-based BNSF did not immediately respond to an email seeking information.

Railroads are largely self-regulating, but they’re under growing pressure from lawmakers and unions over safety lapses often traced to the condition of tracks and equipment.

In 2021, an Amtrak train derailed about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west of Friday’s freight train accident. Three people were killed, and dozens were injured. Investigators in February disclosed that the BNSF-owned track was bent along a curve at the Amtrak derailment site, and the problem got worse as freight trains traveled through the area before the crash.

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