BNSF Says July Derailments Caused by Heat on Tracks

35,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in eastern Montana

By Molly Priddy

BILLINGS — BNSF Railway says two July train derailments including an oil shipment that spilled 35,000 gallons of crude in eastern Montana occurred after heat caused the rails to come out of alignment.

Accident reports submitted by BNSF to federal regulators shows the derailments in Roosevelt County near the North Dakota border caused more than $3 million in combined damages. No injuries were reported.

On July 16, 22 railcars hauling crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota derailed east of Culbertson. BNSF’s report says oil spilled from five cars, prompting the evacuation of 50 people.

Two days earlier, nine cars from a train hauling mixed merchandise including hazardous materials derailed west of Culbertson. No hazardous material was released.

Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Matt Lehner says they accidents remain under investigation.

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