Montana Bridge Collapse Leads to Train Cars Plunging Into Yellowstone River

Several freight train cars reportedly fell into the Yellowstone River after a bridge collapsed early on Saturday morning in Montana. Whether or not any of the hazardous goods carried by the train leaked is still unknown.

Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services said that the collapse happened at around 6 a.m. local time roughly 60 miles west of Billings in a stretch of the river between Reed Point and Columbus. No reports of injuries were heard.

The agency initially reported that at least three of the derailed Montana Rail Link trains were hauling hot asphalt and four were carrying molten sulfur before changing their story to say that there was “no expected hazmat impact” to towns in the area.

In a statement, Montana Rail Link said that “both substances solidify rapidly when exposed to cooler temperatures.” According to Montana Rail Link, neither of the two cars carrying the acid salt sodium hydrogen sulfate made it into the lake, and preliminary examinations of the air and water found no sign of a leak.

The tweet below verifies the news:

The Federal Railroad Administration was present on the site, among the many other local and federal entities. Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, tweeted that he had discussed the matter with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte and that “residents concerned about potential impacts should follow information and instructions from local authorities.”

The state’s division of fish, wildlife, and parks has issued a closure notice for the river and asked that all watercraft steer clear of the area. On Saturday afternoon, the public works department of the riverside city of Billings posted on Facebook that “there is very little chance of any hazardous material getting” into the city.


First, it was claimed that the agency intended “to shut down the water intake for the time it takes for any material to pass by Billings.” First reported on Facebook by the adjacent Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, three tanker cars were “leaking petroleum products near the Yellowstone River.”

Later, however, it was reported in the local publication Stillwater County News that none of the freight cars had oil in their cargo.

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