Railroad News

Union Pacific Derailment Leads to Explosion and Fire as Hundreds Evacuated in St. Louis Area

By September 18, 2019 No Comments

(Dupo, Illinois – September 10, 2019)

Subdivisions, businesses, and schools were evacuated for several hours Tuesday afternoon when a yard derailment wreaked havoc upon the St. Louis suburb of Dupo, IL  about 12:45 PM, CDT. Dupo is a major Union Pacific terminal on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO, and handles between 60 and 80 through and terminal train movements on an average day.

Union Pacific said the derailment which sent 14 rail cars, including one filled with a hazardous, flammable and explosive material off the rails, occurred during train assembly operations.

A tank car filled with methyl isobutyl ketone ruptured, exploded and burned, sending black smoke into the air which could be seen in both downtown St. Louis as well as northern Illinois-side suburbs like Belleville. Witnesses reported hearing loud booming sounds as well as seeing fireballs after the derailment. The chemical, which is used as a solvent, is highly caustic to the skin and exposure can damage both the liver and kidneys.

Police and firefighters evacuated one entire subdivision as well as Dupo Public Schools, whose students were sent to an area high school. Several hundred customers of Ameren Illinois power company also lost electrical power due to the derailment.

No injuries were reported and evacuees were able to return home toward evening as the fire was extinguished.