Water intakes along the Yellowstone River have been shut off, following the collapse of a rail bridge, which sent several cars full of asphalt and sulfur into the water. Photos show crumpled, steaming tanker cars, and what appears to be bright yellow stuff roiling in the water. Pictures from Rawsalerts on Twitter:
This will keep happening, until the US government can stop kissing capitalist asses long enough to actually do its job, and overhaul the infrastructure of the whole damned country. The rails need to be nationalized, with profits from their use re-invested in maintaining, improving, and expanding the network. It seems that Montana’s had enough rain recently, that the stuff pouring into the river is pretty diluted, so cleanup workers are supposedly not at any risk. I have my doubts, obviously, but that’s what’s being reported:
COLUMBUS, Mont. — A bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River in Montana collapsed early Saturday, plunging portions of a freight train carrying hazardous materials into the rushing water below.
The train cars were carrying asphalt and sulfur, said David Stamey, Stillwater County’s chief of emergency services. Officials shut down drinking water intakes downstream while they evaluated the danger. An Associated Press reporter witnessed a yellow substance coming out of some of the tank cars.
However, Stamey said 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 eight rail cars in the river or on the part of the bridge that collapsed.
The train crew was safe and no injuries were reported, Montana Rail Link spokesman Andy Garland said in a statement.
Railroad crews were at the scene in Stillwater County, near the town of Columbus, about 40 miles (about 64 kilometers) west of Billings. The area is in a sparsely populated section of the Yellowstone River Valley, surrounded by ranch and farmland. The river there flows away from Yellowstone National Park, which is about 110 miles (177 kilometers) southwest.
“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.
In neighboring Yellowstone County, officials said they instituted emergency measures at water treatment plants due to the “potential hazmat spill” and asked residents to conserve water.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation. The river was swollen with recent heavy rains, but it’s unclear whether that was a factor.
Oh yeah, that’s the other thing – unless the US takes this seriously, climate change is going to keep putting more stress on its already-crumbling infrastructure. I don’t think climate change is the biggest factor here, given the overall neglect of the nation’s roads, rails, and bridges, but it’s more of a factor every year, and there’s no good excuse for not working to keep ahead of it.
I’m glad Yellowstone National Park won’t be directly affected, but while it’s a lovely place, all the other ecosystems along the river, including the river itself, also merit our concern. Obviously, there will be some human costs associated with this spill, but it’s hard for me to predict those at this stage. If you live downstream from this, along the Yellowstone river, or the Missouri river downstream of where the Yellowstone joins it, it’s probably a good idea to stock up on water, if you haven’t already.