- A 22-car BNSF train derailed early Thursday morning near Raymond, Minnesota, forcing the town’s residents to evacuate their homes, according to a March 30 statement from the railway.
- The cars were carrying corn syrup and ethanol. Four of the cars carrying ethanol, which is highly flammable, ruptured and caught fire, the Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes tweeted Thursday.
- The cause of the incident is currently under investigation and the main track remains blocked indefinitely, according to BNSF. The evacuation order has since been lifted.
Although there were “no other hazardous materials and no injuries as a result of the incident,” according to BNSF, the derailment spurred renewed calls for greater rail safety efforts and incident prevention.
The Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee introduced a rail safety bill on Thursday, which seeks to establish incident preparedness for the transport of oil and other hazardous substances, among other safety additional requirements.
EPA personnel have been monitoring the air around the site of the crash and throughout the surrounding community, according to a tweet from the agency. However, BNSF reported that “there has been no impact to drinking water and air monitoring conducted over the past several hours indicates no detectable levels of concern.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visited the site of the derailment Thursday morning to survey the damage and offer state support, stating in a tweet that “our emergency response will continue working on the ground to protect the health and safety of Raymond.”
The governor has long been involved in rail safety. Walz, who served in the House of Representatives from 2007-2019, co-sponsored multiple railway safety bills during his time in Congress, including the Rail Safety Act in 2016 and the Safe Freight Act of 2017.
As part of his 2024-2025 transportation budget recommendations, Gov. Walz proposed allocating new funds for two additional rail safety inspectors for Class I and II railroads.
The incident is the second major train derailment in a matter of weeks. In early February, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in Ohio, prompting thousands of residents to evacuate so officials could release and burn toxic vinyl chemicals as a safety precaution.