A Montana train derailment sends freight cars into the Yellowstone River

Ten cars from a freight train derailed on the Yellowstone River in Montana on Saturday and a bridge collapsed, spilling asphalt and molten sulfur cargo into the water, authorities said.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality tested water in waterways and treatment facilities in Yellowstone and Stillwater counties on Sunday and found “no negative impacts,” said David Stamey, chief of emergency services in Stillwater County.

Officials were investigating whether the derailment or the bridge collapsed and how much cargo was spilled into the river.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately known, officials said.

The trains, operated by the Montana Rail Link, derailed as they headed west in Stillwater County, the county’s Department of Disaster and Emergency Services, around 6:45 a.m. local time. said on Facebook.

On Sunday, state officials and the Montana Railroad were coordinating cleanup efforts, Mr. Stamey said.

No one was injured, Montana Rail Link spokesman Andy Garland said. The other two cars contained sodium hydrosulfate, but neither went into the water nor were broken, Mr. Garland said.

Wendy Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer Starz Hazmat AdviceThe agency, which serves manufacturers, distributors and carriers of hazardous materials, said the primary danger posed by hot asphalt and molten sulfur is their high temperatures.

When hot sulfur mixes with water, it can form sulfuric acid, which kills fish, Ms Buckley said. But if sulfuric acid is created, he said, “it’s very diluted because it’s in the river” so the long-term effects are “very minimal.”

Ms Buckley said if asphalt, a petroleum product, was in a very liquid state when it was broken up, it would spread and affect the river. Officials said the material moves slowly, so environmental impacts are minimal.

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“It’s dangerous because it’s so hot,” Ms Buckley said, “It’s not ideal by any means, but it’s not a crisis either.”

The derailment occurred between Reed Point and Columbus, about an hour west of Billings.

Video of the scene shows the collapsed bridge and train cars peeking above the rushing water. It was not immediately known when the bridge was built or when it was last inspected.

Mr. Garland said the Montana Railroad is “committed to addressing the potential impact of this incident in the area and to understanding the causes behind the accident.”

The derailment in Montana comes four months after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in eastern Ohio, engulfing the eastern city of Palestine in a plume of smoke. That derailment sparked concerns about residents’ health and the environment.

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