columbus, montana – A bridge across the Yellowstone River in Montana collapsed overnight, sending part of a freight train containing vehicles laden with hazardous materials into the water below.
A statement from Montana Rail Link spokesman Andy Garland said the train crew was safe and no one was injured after the bridge collapsed.
Garland said railroad crews were at the scene near the town of Columbus, about 40 miles west of Billings, after “several” tank cars were partially submerged in the river early Saturday morning.
An Associated Press reporter saw a yellow liquid pouring out of the tanker. Garland did not immediately identify the material in the train. The cause of the collapse is said to be under investigation.
The site is located in a sparsely populated area in the Yellowstone River Basin. It is located approximately 177 kilometers northeast of Yellowstone National Park.
The Montana Disaster Emergency Service has been notified.
“We are committed to addressing the potential impact of this incident on the community and trying to understand the reasons behind the accident,” Garland said.
The river was swollen by recent heavy rains, but it is unclear whether that contributed to the collapse of the bridge.
Columbus Water User Kelly Hitchcock cut off the flow of river water to an irrigation canal downstream of the collapsed bridge to prevent the tanker’s contents from flowing into nearby farmland.
Hitchcock said the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office called the group Saturday morning to warn them of the collapse, saying oil-related products were leaking into the river. He said he hopes little or no effluent gets into the trench.
“It’s going to be the next town because most of it is going to pass by,” he said.
Hitchcock said an old road bridge adjacent to the railroad bridge was removed years ago, which may have diverted rivers and washed the bottom of the railroad bridge during record-breaking floods last year. I assumed it was possible.
Yellowstone experienced record flooding in 2022, wreaking havoc on Yellowstone National Park and neighboring towns in Montana.
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2023/06/24/a-bridge-over-yellowstone-river-collapses-sending-a-freight-train-into-the-waters-below/ A bridge over the Yellowstone River collapses and a freight train plunges into the sea below