Nebraska coal train derailment sparks emergency operation

Third major train derailment in the Midwest in less than a month

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 21 February 2023 21:12 GMT
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A Union Pacific freight train derailed in Nebraska early on Tuesday, sparking an emergency response.

Around 30 cars carrying coal jumped tracks three miles southeast of the town of Gothenburg at about 1.45am, officials said.

Emergency hazmat teams rushed to the site of the crash, but no hazardous materials were released, a Union Pacific spokesperson told The Independent. There were no reported injuries.

Images posted to KNOP showed dozens of rail cars strewn along the tracks, alongside mounds of black coal.

It was the fourth derailment involving a Union Pacific train in the area since May last year, KNOP reported.

The Union Pacific spokesperson said in a statement a clean up operation was underway with heavy machinery, and the cause of the incident remained investigation.

The rail industry has come under intense scrutiny after the 3 February derailment of a Norfolk Southern train that forced the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, to evacuate.

Toxic chemicals including First World War-era gasses were deliberately burned, causing toxins to seep into the surrounding air and water.

A Union Pacific freight train derailed near Gothenburg, Nebraska, on Monday night (KNOP)

The environmental fallout left thousands of fish dead, while returning residents reported respiratory illnesses and burning throats and eyes.

Another Norfolk Southern train derailed in Michigan last week.

On Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on the rail industry to immediately improve safety standards or face stiff penalties.

Mr Buttigieg said he planned to increase fines for “egregious violations”, force rail companies to provide sick pay and inform local officials when they are transporting hazardous materials through their state.

He further called on railroad companies to set up confidential hotlines where staff could report safety concerns, after previous instances of Norfolk Southern allegedly trying to silence whistleblowers.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a legally binding order on Tuesday requiring Norfolk Southern to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources.

The Independent has contacted Union Pacific for further details.

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