• Wed. Jun 16th, 2021

A freight train carrying fertilizer has derailed in northwestern Iowa


May 18, 2021

A freight train carrying fertilizer has derailed in northwestern Iowa, triggering the partial evacuation of a nearby community and a hazardous materials team response. It is the second such incident in the US in around 24 hours.

The derailment happened around 2pm Sunday, on the outskirts of Sibley, a small town of roughly 2,700 residents in northwestern Iowa on the border with Minnesota. There were no injuries reported, but part of the town received evacuation orders over a “HAZMAT train derailment and fire,” as first responders sealed off the area within 5 miles of the crash.

The train was carrying fertilizer and various chemicals used in its production, such as highly volatile ammonium nitrate, according to local media reports. Dozens of cars were piled up on top of one another, some on fire, with a large cloud of black smoke above, as could be seen in photos and video shared online. 

The full scale of the incident and the ensuing emergency response was not immediately clear, but according to a video shared by Nathan Minten, some of the cars were still on fire after sunset.

“If residents are sheltering in their homes, it is recommended to have them open their windows on both sides of their homes and have people positioned in the middle of their homes,” a local emergency center said in its warning, according to radio station KIWA.

This is a preventative safety measure in case one of the rail cars on fire explodes.

In a brief statement, Union Pacific spokeswoman Robynn Tysver confirmed that at least 47 cars went off the tracks, and that the incident is under investigation and the railroad is “working with local authorities.”

This is the second such incident in roughly 24 hours, and the third in less than a week in the US. Around 1:30pm Saturday afternoon, a Union Pacific train crashed around 120 miles away, just across the border in Minnesota. That incident also caused a hazardous materials team response after a hydrochloric acid leak was detected.

Sky4 over the scene of a Union Pacific train that derailed in Albert Lea.28 train cars left the tracks — officials are still working to determine what was in them. A HAZMAT team is assisting. @WCCOpic.twitter.com/Q6oCpINggm— Nick Streiff (@nickstreiff) May 15, 2021

On May 11, yet another cargo train derailed 450 miles away in central Illinois. HAZMAT teams did not detect chemical leaks at the time. The causes of the derailments have yet to be revealed.

Here is a compilation of shots from @WCIA3 SKY 3 drone showing the train derailment near Pesotum, IL and the workers who are cleaning up the incident. pic.twitter.com/JNvN9RQ6XW— Kevin Lighty – WCIA 3 Chief Meteorologist (@KevinLighty) May 12, 2021

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