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Train Carrying Hazardous Material Plunges into Yellowstone River - Mysterious Liquid Seen Leaking

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A bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River in Montana collapsed overnight, causing portions of a freight train, including some cars carrying hazardous material, to plunge into the water below.

The train crew was safe and no injuries were reported after the bridge collapse, according to a statement from Andy Garland, spokesman for the Montana Rail Link.

Garland said “several” tank cars were partially submerged in the river early Saturday, and railroad crews were at the scene near the town of Columbus, about 40 miles west of Billings.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed a yellow liquid pouring out of tank cars. Garland did not immediately identify the substances on board the train.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation, he said.

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The site is in a sparsely populated area in the Yellowstone River Valley, about 110 miles northeast of Yellowstone National Park.

The Montana Disaster and Emergency Services has been notified.

“We are committed to addressing any potential impacts to the area as a result of this incident and working to understand the reasons behind the accident,” Garland said.

The river was swollen with recent heavy rains, although it is unclear whether that contributed to the bridge collapse.

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Kelly Hitchcock of the Columbus Water Users shut off the flow of river water into an irrigation ditch downstream from the collapsed bridge to prevent contents from the tank cars from reaching nearby farmland.

Hitchcock said the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office called the group Saturday morning to warn it about the collapse and said petroleum-related products were leaking into the river.

He said he hoped little or none of the spilled material got into the ditch.

“Looks like most of it is going to go past, so it’s going to be the next town,” he said.

Hitchcock said an old highway bridge that ran adjacent to the railroad bridge was removed several years ago, and he speculated that could have changed the river’s flow and scoured the bottom of the railroad bridge during last year’s floods.

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The Yellowstone River saw record flooding in 2022 that caused extensive damage to Yellowstone National Park and adjacent towns in Montana.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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