Crews worked yesterday to move the asphalt car that had been resting on the eastern span of the bridge. To safely accomplish this, the car was lowered into the water before being moved to the west bank of the river for removal. While completing this work, there was an asphalt material release. Initial assessments indicate the release was minimal based on the amount of material believed to still be remaining in the impacted car. Crews were also able to remove one of the additional impacted molten sulfur cars from the river. As of this morning, the only two cars that remain in the river are a molten sulfur car and the scrap metal car. Crews began removing contents of the scrap metal car to aid car removal. Construction efforts this morning include extending the causeway to remove the remaining cars in the river. The process to begin transferring the product from the three upright asphalt cars on the eastern span of the bridge to stable rail cars before removing them to safety is underway. This is a time-consuming process, expected to take multiple days to successfully complete.
Montana Rail Link (MRL) continues to coordinate on alternative routes for train traffic to minimize impacts of the derailment on customers and the nation’s supply chain. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and MRL signed an agreement that will allow MRL train crews to run trains from Laurel to Great Falls and Great Falls to Shelby. This will begin as soon as possible.
Unified Command representatives and the environmental assessment team continue planning efforts on the best approach for physical removal of asphalt from the river and impacted areas. Members of the public are encouraged to continue reporting sightings of any asphalt material they observe to the email below and continue to avoid touching the material with bare skin. There are no reports of oiled wildlife at this time from river assessment efforts.
This morning, boating and fishing access sites remain closed approximately 1 mile upstream and 2.5 miles downstream from the site of the derailment. River and access site closures are subject to change based on condition assessments and needs of emergency response agencies. Signs providing details of the closure are posted at access points and members of the public are encouraged to follow updates provided by Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) regarding site access.
To report observed asphalt material, submit information to: email@example.com.
To report an oiled animal, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) Response Hotline at 888-ASK-OWCN (888-275-6926) and provide the animal’s location, time last seen, and your contact information.
Please visit the EPA’s website for a video of removal work. Navigate to documents and click on “video” or look for the title “Asphalt Car Removal Video 6/30/23.”
For more information, please visit the response websites at:
This response is operating under a Unified Command which enables different jurisdictions and organizations to jointly manage and direct incident activities. Unified Command for this incident is comprised of representatives from Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Montana Rail Link.
FULL RELEASE: Stillwater MT Derailment Press Release 20230701 (PDF)