Montana Bridge train derailment sends several cars into Yellowstone River


A train derailment in Montana caused a bridge over the Yellowstone River to collapse and send several cars into the water below, Stillwater County officials said Saturday.

The damaged cars were carrying “molten sulfur and asphalt,” according to a statement from Montana Rail Link.

Two cars carrying sodium hydrogen sulfate were part of the derailment, but neither landed in the river “and initial air quality assessments were conducted and confirmed that there was no release event associated with the two cars,” it said railway.

The derailment happened around 6am. Several tank cars were damaged and leaking “petroleum products,” according to Yellowstone County Emergency and Disaster Services.

The derailed Montana Rail Link train cars included “multiple cars containing hazardous substances,” the regional rail company said in an earlier statement. The train crew is safe and no injuries have been reported, the statement said.

Yellowstone County officials said there was no immediate threat and “precautions are being taken.”

The railroad said it would “safely respond to the emergency by controlling all emissions and mitigating impacts.”

“During the response, MRL will work with local, state and federal partners to assess impacts to natural resources and develop appropriate cleanup, removal and restoration efforts,” it said in a statement.

The cause of the derailment has not yet been determined and people are being asked to stay away from the areas around the Yellowstone River Railroad Bridge.

“Local fishing accesses will be closed. Water treatment plants, irrigation districts and industrial companies are taking appropriate precautions,” the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office said.

Yellowstone County Emergency and Disaster Services asked people who live in the area to conserve water.

Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services spokeswoman Tammie Mullikin said notifications have been made to all necessary agencies and that “safety and hazard mitigation efforts” have been implemented in response to the incident.

“We have formally established a unified command and we use the incident command system,” Mullikin said. “The unified command is working together to determine the most appropriate steps to ensure a safe resolution to this incident.”

Gov. Greg Gianforte tweeted Saturday that he was monitoring the derailment.

Montana Rail Link is a Class II regional railroad that operates more than 900 miles of rail in Montana and Idaho, according to the company’s website.

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