Freight Train Carrying Hazardous Materials Plunges into Yellowstone River as Bridge Fails

It was a peaceful Saturday morning when a bridge crossing the Yellowstone River in Montana collapsed, plunging a freight train carrying hazardous materials into the water below.

The accident raised concerns about potential long-term environmental and health impacts, prompting emergency measures to protect local residents and ecosystems.

The train cars were carrying hot asphalt and molten sulfur, two hazardous materials that can pose a danger to human health and the environment if not handled safely.

Both substances can cause severe burns and release toxic fumes, posing a serious threat to human health and the environment.

Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services shut down drinking water intakes downstream as they evaluated the danger after the accident.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed a yellow substance coming out of some of the tank cars, adding to fears of a hazardous materials spill.

Fortunately, there was no immediate danger for the crews working at the site, and the hazardous material was being diluted by the swollen river.

There were three asphalt cars and four sulfur cars in the river.

Railroad crews were at the scene in Stillwater County, near the town of Columbus, about 40 miles west of Billings.

The area is sparsely populated, surrounded by vast expanses of ranches and farmland, which may have limited the immediate impact of the accident.

The train crew was safe, and no injuries were reported, according to Montana Rail Link spokesman Andy Garland. The asphalt and sulfur both solidify quickly when exposed to cooler temperatures.

In neighboring Yellowstone County, officials instituted emergency measures at water treatment plants due to the "potential hazmat spill" and asked residents to conserve water.

The collapse also took out a fiber-optic cable providing internet service to many customers in the state, the high-speed provider Global Net said.

This affected all Global Net customers, and connectivity was down or extremely slow, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of the bridge collapse.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation, and the river was swollen with recent heavy rains, but it's unclear whether that was a factor.

Robert Bea, a retired engineering professor, said repeated years of heavy river flows provided a clue to the possible cause.

Investigators would want to look at whether there was wear or rust in bridge components as well as a record of maintenance, repair, and inspections.

Federal Railroad Administration officials were at the scene working with local authorities to determine the cause of the accident and prevent similar incidents in the future.

The collapse of the bridge and the spill of hazardous materials into the Yellowstone River have potentially severe environmental and health impacts.

The collapse of the bridge and the spill of hazardous materials into the Yellowstone River have potentially severe environmental and health impacts.

It's essential to investigate the cause of the accident, ensure that bridge owners comply with safety standards, and take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.