Train derails into Mississippi River in Wisconsin

A train has derailed, sending two containers into the Mississippi River in Wisconsin on Thursday. Railway officials say there's no risk to the river.

The incident happened near the Lansing Bridge, between De Soto and Ferryville, Wisconsin, which is about a 3-hour drive (190 miles) from Minneapolis. BNSF Railway said the train derailed at about 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 27.  Crew members have all been accounted for following the derailment, though BNSF did not comment on any injuries. 

"Two of the three locomotives and an unknown number of cars carrying freight of all kinds were involved. Two containers went into the Mississippi River; neither contained hazardous materials. Some of the containers derailed on shore contained paint and lithium-ion batteries. Boom is being placed in the impacted area. The volumes involved don’t pose a risk to the river or the communities," Lena Kent, BNSF general director public affairs, said in a statement. 

Local first responders are on the scene, and BNSF will work with local and state agencies. The FRA has also sent safety personnel to the scene to gather information and support local efforts as needed. The incident is under investigation. 

The De Soto Fire Chief Chris Mussatti describes his immediate thoughts after hearing a pair of locomotives and an unknown number of cars went off the tracks just south of town around 12:15 p.m.

"What's actually derailed? What's in these containers? Because I know that they carry so many various chemicals, hydrocarbons you name it. There's telling what actually got hurt, what didn't get hurt, and what's leaking. All the things that run through your mind."

Two cars carrying paint went into the Mississippi River but they have since been secured to the bank. Other cars carrying lithium-ion batteries and oxygen containers are on shore. But they never went into the water and BNSF says the volumes involved don't pose a risk to the river or the nearby communities.

"At this time, the response is no hazard to the public," said Jim Hackett, Crawford County Director of Emergency Management. "There is no hazardous material we are concerned about for public safety."

This isn't the first time a BNSF train has derailed in this area. In 2016, two locomotives and six cars derailed because of extensive flooding after 10 inches of rain. Nearly 1,200 gallons of diesel poured into the Mississippi from a ruptured tank in that derailment.

The cause of the derailment is not yet known.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin says Wisconsin State Highway 35 from State Highway 171 to State Highway 82 in De Soto is closed. No evacuation is needed. Meanwhile, BNSF says the main track is blocked in both directions. An estimated time for reopening hasn't been released. 

The derailment comes nearly three months after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Officials released and burned toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars in order to prevent an explosion. Meanwhile, last month, hundreds of people were evacuated in Raymond, Minnesota, after a BNSF train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and started on fire

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A train derailed along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin on Thursday.