Related video: A train derails and several cars catch fire 1:20
(WABNEWS) — Nearly a day after a train carrying a highly flammable chemical derailed and caught fire in a small town in southwestern Minnesota, crews were working overnight to extinguish the flames as local officials secured residents that groundwater and air are safe.
Of the 22 railcars that derailed in Raymond, Minnesota, on Thursday morning, four containing ethanol broke apart and caught fire, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said. those transporting the substance were also at risk of releasing the chemical, the EPA said.RELATED
Other cars that derailed contained corn syrup, said the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office.
The EPA is at the scene of the accident and has been monitoring the air for particles and other compounds, noting that there has not been a severe impact on the community so far.
“EPA has not found any level [de partículas] worrying in the community and, so far, levels have been detected [de compuestos orgánicos volátiles] below health concerns only by traveling downwind of wagons to an unpopulated area.” the agency said this Thursday afternoon.
Train operator BNSF Railway found no impact on drinking water, and air monitoring conducted during the morning hours showed no levels of concern, said in a statement, Thursday afternoon.
The response to the derailment and fire included 28 Fire Departments, including several volunteer departments that remained on the scene Thursday night, the Sheriff’s Office said, in a publication online. No injuries have been reported.
BNSF crews are also working to clear the site, the Sheriff’s Office said, noting that they had begun removing train cars so they could better access those with “active flames.”
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was sent to the crash site to investigate, the board said.
The derailment occurred around 1 am Thursday in Raymond, a small town of about 800 people.
Homes within about a half mile of the derailment were evacuated, but the order was lifted later the same day, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The derailment in Minnesota comes less than two months after a Norfolk Southern train carrying dangerous chemicals crashed in the Ohio community of East Palestine.
The fire burned for days, releasing toxic chemicals into the air that killed thousands of fish. Many residents have complained of health problems after that derailment and expressed concern about the impact of the chemicals.
What the train was carrying
In Minnesota, preliminary information from the accident suggested that 14 of the train’s 40 cars were carrying hazardous materials, “including ethanol, which was released, starting a fire,” Minnesota’s Secretary of Transportation told WABNEWS Thursday morning. United States, Pete Buttigieg.
ethanol can blow when mixed with steam and air. Exposure to ethanol can cause coughing, dizziness, burning sensation in the eyes, drowsiness, and unconsciousness.
“Ethanol, like many chemicals, can be toxic if inhaled, in contact with skin, or swallowed. But it requires a certain concentration to be a health hazard,” said Andrew Whelton, a Purdue University professor who is an expert in Environmental Chemistry and Water Quality.
Ethanol is highly soluble in water, which means it will be relatively easy to dilute.
“Dilution is a way to reduce the risk” of health problems from any water that may be contaminated with ethanol, Whelton said.
— WABNEWS’s Rebekah Riess, Tina Burnside, Ella Nilsen, Holly Yan and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.