Crews Make Progress At Rail Collapse Site Over Yellowstone River
Crews working to remove the rail cars in and near the Yellowstone River railroad bridge collapse are making progress, as of Tuesday morning. According to a press release from the EPA on behalf of the Unified Command managing the response, crews were able to remove the first impacted rail car from the river.
That car contained asphalt and has been safely transferred to a staging area. Work is underway this morning to begin disassembling the west segment of the bridge. This will allow better access for crews to assess and remove the remaining cars. Riprap is being brought on site this morning to construct a causeway, or a stable path, to assist car assessment and removal.
Earlier Tuesday, I also caught up with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT), who was in the middle of a swing through Eastern Montana as part of his 56 county tour of the state. He visited the site first hand on Sunday.
Gov. Gianforte: It could have been a lot worse. I mean it was a catastrophic sight- you see it and you just think, oh my. The entire bridge collapsed into the river. 10 cars were actually physically in the river. But I was incredibly impressed with the response that was going on- Stillwater County Fire Chief Rich Cowger was leading up the efforts, Montana DES, Montana DEQ, Montana FWP, construction crews. The bridge was owned by Montana Rail Link, and they're responsible 100% for the cleanup and getting it done. There were some materials on that train that we definitely did not want in the river. Fortunately, they did not end up in the river. So the cleanup continues. We've been doing the testing of the water, and the materials that did end up in the river, again, are not water soluble. So again, it could have been a lot worse.
In addition to continuing water quality testing, the governor is focused on economic concerns.
Gov. Gianforte: The second category of questions are: what impact does this have on the economy? When are we gonna get his bridge back? And what I understand from Montana Rail Link is traffic that would have come through Laurel, they're routing that up through Great Falls to Shelby. And the line will continue to operate to Livingston on that line, but this is gonna be a while till this bridge is replaced.
Full audio of our chat with Gov. Gianforte is included in the 2nd half of the below audio:
According to the press release from the EPA, "the 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."