Another Train Derails and Spills Hazardous Materials: This Time, in Rural North Dakota

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Mar. 28 2023, Published 12:29 p.m. ET

Source: Getty Images

Ever since a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio in early 2023, people across the U.S. has become more aware of the concerning frequency of train derailments nationwide. And now, in North Dakota, a train has derailed, spilling dangerous materials — making the public even more worried about the severity of this issue.

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Overall, the North Dakota train derailment is far less of a public risk than the recent ones in Ohio and West Virginia. However, it's still a major cause for concern, and a reminder that we never know what is around the corner.

Keep reading for all the details on the North Dakota train derailment.

Canadian Pacific Railway Train
Source: Getty Images

The Spiral Tunnels on the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia, Canada, circa 1960.

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A train carrying hazardous materials derailed in North Dakota.

On the night of Sunday, March 26, 2023, at around 11:15 p.m., a massive train operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway derailed as it traveled through a rural area of North Dakota, as reported by AP News.

Specifically, the train derailed outside of a town called Wyndmere, which has a population of just 460 people.

The train was carrying a variety of hazardous materials that spilled when 31 cars of the 70-car train flew off the tracks. For instance, four cars spilled liquid asphalt, two spilled ethylene glycol, and one car released some propylene vapor, as per AP News.

Canadian Pacific stated that responders reported to the scene of the crash the following morning, according to The Guardian.

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It was snowy where the chemicals were released, which helped prevent a fire; additionally, authorities confirmed that there is "no threat to public safety," as per the news outlet.

In fact, authorities are taking care of this spill by leaving the hazardous materials on the ground, where the cold and snowy weather will help them freeze. After about a week and a half, authorities will clean the materials, according to The Guardian.

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Why did a train derail in North Dakota?

Andy Cummings, a spokesperson for Canadian Pacific, stated that the company believes the train derailed due to a broken rail on the railway, as per AP News.

Conversely, federal investigators have attributed the infamous February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio to a "mechanical issue with a rail car axle," as reported by WLWT.

And when a train derailed in West Virginia earlier in March, the cause was a rockslide (an avalanche of rocks), as per CNN.

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As you can see, each of these serious train derailments were caused by different factors — highlighting how resolving this issue will not be a simple fix. Plus, 1,164 train derailments were recorded across the U.S. in 2022, according to the Federal Railroad Administration via NPR. That's more than three derailments per day — proving how this issue is much more widespread than many of us realize.

Train Derailment Cleanup
Source: Getty Images

Ron Fodo, Ohio EPA Emergency Response, looks for signs of fish and also agitates the water in Leslie Run creek to check for chemicals that have settled at the bottom following the train derailment prompting health concerns on Feb. 20, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

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There are many existing technologies that can help prevent train derailments, and it's time for the federal government to start requiring more of these measures and precautions.

Not to mention, the fact that the recently derailed trains were all carrying hazardous materials should lead us to question why the materials are being transported in the first place. As environmentalists beg government leaders to better regulate the use of fossil fuels and other toxic materials, the constant derailing of trains — which is hurting the planet and people — is a reminder of how we humans are orchestrating the demise of our own species.

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