In yet another one of the railroad accidents that are occurring with alarming frequency, a 25-car train derailment in Big Sky Country is drawing national headlines, this time not for the spilling of hazardous chemicals as in other recent incidents, but for its cargo of beer, cases of which were strewn along the banks of the Clark Fork River in scenic western Montana.
The accident happened on Sunday morning when the cars jumped the track on the other side of the river from Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort in Paradise, Mont., dumping a load of powdered clay and cases upon cases of cans and bottles of Coors Light and Blue Moon beer in a location that could present a challenge for crews tasked with cleaning up the mess with some of the cars that are off the tracks located in a “narrow, century-old tunnel with limited access,” according to officials.
“It’s a terrible spot to get in and out of,” said Sanders County Disaster and Emergency Services manager Bill Naegeli, who is quoted in an Associated Press report. “The biggest issue is the cars derailed inside the tunnel” which has little clearance.
“At 0931 we were paged for a train derailment across the river from Quinn’s Hot Springs on Hwy 135. We responded with 6 apparatus and 13 Firefighters. St Regis Fire sent an engine and Plains Community Ambulance responded,” the Plains-Paradise Rural Fire District wrote on Facebook following the derailment.
“The coordinated effort with our resources and Montana Rail Link, we were able to identify the products involved and that there was no hazardous materials posing an immanent threat to public safety. Guests at the water front cabins were evacuated as a precaution,” the post reads. “The local MRL folks were on scene and on the tracks quickly assessing damage to the cars involved and any potential environmental concerns. The rail cars that reached the river were empty or carrying Coors Light and Blue Moon. (This is not floating down the river and is secured in the derailment area).”
“After the initial assessment by MRL, our rescue boat was utilized to transport Chief Russell and MRL across the river for a thorough assessment and air monitoring. The single rail car of concern was carrying propane. It was partially off the tracks but not leaking. Visual inspection and utilizing a gas meter did not detect any leaks,” the fire district reported.
(Video: YouTube/CBS 17)
“A boom was deployed across the river to secure any cans or bottles of beer that enter the water and to monitor for any possible diesel impacts after a small amount of fuel spilled on the dirt from two refrigerator cars that derailed, said Andy Garland, spokesperson for Montana Rail Link, in a statement Monday,” according to AP.
“MRL has been in communication with both local and federal authorities and will conduct any necessary site remediation, including impacted soil removal in coordination with DEQ,” Garland said in a the statement.
(Image: Screengrab/The Missoulian)
There is no threat to public safety, Montana Rail Link officials said. The railroad is investigating what caused the train to derail.
“We are committed to addressing any impacts to the area as a result of this accident, prioritizing the safety of our employees and the public, and understanding the reasons for this incident,” the railroad said in a statement to the Montana Free Press.
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