MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Crews removed two rail cars from the Mississippi River after a freight train derailed in southwestern Wisconsin, leaving four railway employees with minor injuries, officials said Friday.
Thursday’s derailment in Crawford County involved two of the train’s three locomotives and 10 cars carrying a variety of freight, including paint and lithium-ion batteries, said BNSF Railway spokesperson Lena Kent.
She said officials were still investigating what caused the derailment near De Soto, a village located about 85 miles northwest of Madison.
The Federal Railroad Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates safety across the nation’s railroads, tweeted that it was sending a team to the site, including WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson, to gather information and help local emergency workers. Nearly 30 state, local and public agencies responded to the derailment, according to Crawford County Emergency Management Director James Hackett.
The derailment blocked the main railway track in both directions and sent two rail cars into the river, Kent said. She said neither contained hazardous materials but an absorbent boom was put in place to reduce the possibility of pollution.
The two containers were removed after boat crews secured them to the river bank, preventing them from traveling any farther south down the river, Hackett said. He said officials would provide more information later Friday.
Rock was being brought to the scene from nearby quarries to build a platform for providing officials with access to remove the train, said De Soto Fire Chief Chris Mussatti.
After the derailment about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, four BNSF crew members were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries and released, Kent said.
Gov. Tony Evers tweeted that he was briefed on the derailment and getting regular updates from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources and state emergency management officials.
His spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, said it wasn’t clear if the derailment caused any environmental contamination. Email messages were left Thursday and Friday with a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Thursday’s derailment came almost three months after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Officials there decided to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars to prevent a catastrophic explosion.
Hundreds of people had to evacuate in Raymond, Minnesota, last month after a BNSF train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire.