Minnesota train derailment – latest: Governor visits Raymond after ethanol in cars catch fire
Residents of a small town in Minnesota were allowed back home late on Thursday morning after being evacuated due to a fiery freight train derailment.
People in Raymond, 100 miles west of Minneapolis, had been ordered to leave in the early hours on Thursday.
Some 22 cars, carrying ethanol and corn syrup, came off the tracks. Several cars burst into flames, according to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.
Residents in the immediate vicinity were ordered to leave their homes, and a half-mile evacuation zone was set up around the crash site.
BNSF Railway, the company which owns the train, told The Independent there were no other hazardous materials on the train and no injuries as a result of the incident.
Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday morning that he had been briefed on the train derailment and would visit the site.
The Minnesota train derailment is the latest in at least half a dozen railroad incidents across the US in as many weeks.
Minnesota Governor visiting site of derailment
No injuries or fatalities reported, say Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg
15:11 , Louise Boyle
No injuries or fatalities were reported in the trail derailment, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Monday.
The Federal Railroad Administraion (FRA) is on the ground following the BNSF train crash to monitor the incident, he added.
Pictured: The burn site in snow-covered rural Minnesota
15:34 , Louise Boyle
Minnesota Governor on way to scene of derailment
15:38 , Louise Boyle
Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday morning that he had been briefed on the train derailment situation unfolding in Raymond and was “on my way to the site”.
He also said that he had a phone call with Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the situation.
“The state stands ready to protect the health and safety of the community,” he added.
Watch: Train wreck engulfed in flames in Minnesota
15:56 , Louise Boyle
EPA arrives at first light
16:10 , Louise Boyle
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that they had arrived on the scene at 6.30am on Thursday morning to carry out air monitoring at and around the site, and throughout the community.
Four of the cars in the derailment which ruptured contained ethanol, a highly flammable product. This subsequently caused a fire that has continued to burn.
The local fire department led the response and ordered a mandatory evacuation, which remains in place
“The agency will continue to coordinate with local, state and federal agencies to ensure the safety of residents and first responders in and around Raymond,” EPA stated.
Local residents told to evacuate area
16:30 , Louise Boyle
People in the community of Raymond, Minnesota were evacuated in the early hours.
My colleague, Rachel Sharp, has the full report below.
Minnesota residents evacuated as train carrying ethanol derails and catches fire
Ohio moves to approve new safety rules after toxic crash in East Palestine
17:01 , Louise Boyle
The latest US derailment in Minnesota came hours after Ohio lawmakers moved closer to approving new safety rules following a toxic train derailment in their state last month.
A Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in a fiery crash in East Palestine early in February spilling toxic chemicals into the environment.
On Wednesday, new safety measures moved closer to becoming law in Ohio, as part of a nearly $13.5 billion transportation budget that cleared the Legislature. It will then head to the desk of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for expected final approval.
Ohio’s new rail safety provisions include a two-person crew for freight trains; require personnel who receive messages about defects picked up by a railroad’s wayside detector system immediately notify a train operator; and order the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to submit written reports to the Legislature regarding the transportation of hazardous materials and waste.
With reporting from the Associated Press
Watch: Train derailment leads to ethanol fire in Minnesota
17:05 , Louise Boyle
Railroad company respond to derailment
17:25 , Louise Boyle
The train which derailed in Raymond, Minnesota is owned by BNSF Railway, one of the US’s largest freight railroad companies which operates in 28 states.
In a statement to The Independent on Thursday, a BNSF spokesperson confirmed that approximately 22 cars carrying mixed freight including ethanol and corn syrup are reported to be derailed with four cars on fire.
“There are no other hazardous materials on the train and no injuries as a result of the incident.
“BNSF field personnel are onsite to assess the derailment site and are working closely with local first responders. Residents and businesses impacted by the incident can contact 866-243-4784 for assistance.
“The main track is blocked and an estimated time for reopening the line is not available. The cause of the incident is under investigation.”
Fire crews inspect the train derailment
17:48 , Louise Boyle
Is ethanol harmful to the environment?
18:10 , Louise Boyle
The derailed train was carrying the hazardous substance, ethanol, according to public officials.
Ethanol is used widely in gasoline in the US to reduce air pollution from the fossil fuel, and to produce biofuels, according to the Department of Energy.
Pure ethanol is nontoxic and biodegradable, and if spilled, break down into harmless substances, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
However, the EIA notes that similar to petroleum fuels, “biofuels are flammable (especially ethanol) and must be transported carefully”.
However when burned, pure biofuels generally produce fewer emissions of particulates, sulfur dioxide, and air toxics than fossil fuel products, EIA noted.
Watch: Residents evacuated after fiery Minnesota crash
18:30 , Louise Boyle
Residents allowed to return home
18:50 , Louise Boyle
Residents of a small town in Minnesota were allowed back to their homes late on Thursday morning after being evacuated due to the fiery rail crash.
Local people from Raymond, a town of around 700 people about 100 miles west of Minneapolis, were given the all-clear at 11am.
Local people had been taking shelter at a school and a church in nearby Prinsburg, CBS reported.
Road detours remained in place, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with Highway 23 closed from Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1.
Train derails in rural North Dakota and spills chemicals
19:10 , Louise Boyle
Earlier this week, another train came off the rails in rural North Dakota as focus intensifies on railroad safety issues across the US.
The Canadian Pacific train derailed on Sunday, 26th March, outside of Wyndmere, a town of several hundred people about 60 miles southwest of Fargo.
While there was a spill of hazardous materials, local authorities and the railroad said there was no threat to public safety.
Canadian Pacific spokesperson Andy Cummings said 31 of the 70 cars on the train, including several carrying hazardous materials, left the tracks around 11.15pm on Sunday.
Four cars filled with liquid asphalt and two railcars filled with ethylene glycol spilled some of those chemicals in the derailment. And Cummings said a car carrying propylene was punctured and released some vapor.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the chemicals were released, but there are no waterways nearby and the chemical spills were contained at the site of the derailment.
Governor visits train derailment site
19:28 , Louise Boyle
Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz has visted the site of the train derailment in Raymond to survey the damage and meet with local officials.
“Our multi-agency emergency response will continue working on the ground to protect the health and safety of Raymond,” he tweeted.
This morning, I visited the site of the train derailment in Raymond to survey the damage, meet with local officials, and offer the state’s full support.
Our multi-agency emergency response will continue working on the ground to protect the health and safety of Raymond. pic.twitter.com/LcXKMzttKx
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) March 30, 2023
Pictured: The trainwreck in snow-covered Minnesota
20:00 , Louise Boyle