Massive Fireball and Smoke Clouds Over Illinois Railyard After Fiery Train Derailment

Posted on 9/17/2019 by Lauren Scott

Smoke and fire could be seen as far away as downtown St. Louis after a tank car carrying methyl isobutyl ketone caught fire in Dupo, IL, resulting in area evacuations and power outages. However, no one was injured in the incident.

At approximately 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 10, 14 rail cars derailed while a train was being built for departure at Union Pacific’s Dupo Rail Yard. This caused a tank car holding methyl isobutyl ketone to catch fire. Methyl isobutyl ketone is an extremely flammable liquid that is typically used as a solvent.

Early video footage shows multiple rail cars on fire and possibly nearby water as well. About 1,000 people were reported to be without power as powerlines had to be de-energized while the fire burned.

Evacuations at the railyard, local schools, and beyond began at approximately 1:15 p.m. that day as emergency personnel worked to put out the fire. By 4 p.m., the fire was extinguished, power was restored and the evacuation order was lifted following an air quality test.

An environmental specialist has been assigned to the area to monitor the air quality until site remediation is complete.

State and Local officials will continue to investigate the rail yard for a possible cause of the derailment. Although a derailment can be the result of multiple factors—in 2016, AP reported that inspectors identified 24,000 "imperfections" along 58,000 miles of hazmat rail routes across forty-four states. Issues inspectors found included defective or missing track fasteners, loose or broken bolts, and cracked steel.

The incident is a stark reminder of the risks posed by hazardous materials in transport, and the importance of the work industry professionals do every day to keep these shipments safe. In an emergency, the information provided by shippers--from placards and hazmat labels to shipping papers and emergency response information--all play a crucial role in informing first responders' actions and protecting the public.

Convenient DOT Hazmat Training for Rail Shippers

If you are responsible for loading, unloading, and transloading tank cars, or if you ship, carry, or receive hazmat by rail, keep shipments rolling with Lion’s Hazmat Ground Shipper—Additional Rail Requirements online course. Designed to meet DOT’s function-specific hazmat training, the course covers the unique 49 CFR rules you must know to ship hazmat by tank car, freight container, IBC, and bulk or non-bulk packages by rail.

Tags: accident, derailment, fire, hazardous materials, hazmat, IL, Illinois, incident, Rail, train

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