Workers cleaning up coal spilled into Yellowstone River after Columbus train derailment

Posted at 3:05 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 17:05:22-04

COLUMBUS – Cleanup continued Wednesday in Columbus where a coal train derailed on the tracks late Tuesday night.

The derailment occurred at around 11 p.m., according to Montana Rail Link spokesman Jim Lewis.

Roughly 40 cars fell off the track along Highway 78, but authorities are still investigating the cause.

Now, cleanup is the priority, according to Lewis, and rail crews were seen dismantling crumpled aluminum train cars and separating coal in the process.

Roads that cross the railroad tracks were closed Wednesday morning but opened by the afternoon.

The derailment didn’t halt service, said Lewis. Trains have shifted their route and are still moving on Montana Rail Link lines on Montana’s Hi-Line.

However, there is concern of the environmental damage caused by the spill. Lewis said coal did fall from one of the open rail cars and into a stream of the Yellowstone River.

“We call in our environmental contractor Olympus. They come in and do environmental remediation to ensure that no additional coal is getting into the waterway,” said Lewis.

The cleanup should last until Thursday.

Related: Dozens of coal cars derail in Columbus

Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News