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BNSF Derailment Forces Evacuation

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

Residents of the small northern Iowa town of Lester received an early and unwanted wake-up call Sunday morning at about 4:15 A.M. after a 100-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train derailed 25 of its cars, one containing LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), a hazardous material with a long history of volatility after train derailments.

Also among the derailed cars were some containing propane, another flammable, potentially explosive, but only the LPG tank car was compromised. Regardless, the danger forced evacuation of a dozen families within a one-mile radius in the vicinity of the derailment. The displaced families, who were given no prognosis on when they might return home, are staying with friends and relatives in and around Lester.

BNSF Spokesperson Amy McBeth said that local fire and police officials made the decision to evacuate even before HazMat personnel arrived at the scene to assess the situation. “They make that determination out of precaution, certainly,” said McBeth. “We’ll be taking every precaution and working closely with them as we move forward.”

Lyon County Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Mark Dorhout said “Best case scenario is there are no leaks, and they’re able to get it (the site) cleaned off.”


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