Tracks expected to return to service Monday after Wis. train derailment

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A large Burlington Northern tanker train derailed along the Mississippi River approximately two miles north of Alma, Wis. on Saturday morning, prompting several road closures and a temporary voluntary evacuation of the area. Officials on Sunday said they expect the tracks to resume service on Monday morning.

Crews worked to clear the area on Sunday and are continuing to transload ethanol from derailed cars and rerail the tank cars.  Once that work is complete, repairs on the tracks can begin.

The train was traveling southbound along the Mississippi River when it derailed around 8:50 a.m., according to a division of the Wisconsin Emergency Management team. At least 25 cars went off the tracks, including empty auto racks and tanker cars of denatured alcohol, commonly known as ethanol. Aerial footage of the site shows two of the 25 derailed cars in the water. 

Five of the cars released have released ethanol into the river, BNSF Railway said in a statement. No fire, smoke or injuries occurred. 

Parts of Highway 37 and 35 were temporarily closed due to the incident, but all roads are now back open. The residents in the affected area who voluntarily evacuated have returned to their homes. 

Emergency crews are working with BNSF and the La Crosse hazmat regional team to evaluate the derailment. The Federal Railroad Administration is also investigating the incident. 

Severson said there is no danger to the public.

“Everybody responded very quickly and it's good as it can be. It’s gone very well," Severson said. 

Sunday BNSF statement

BNSF Railway crews working near Alma, WI at the site of yesterday’s freight train derailment continue to transload ethanol from derailed cars and rerail the tank cars.  Once that work is complete, repairs on the tracks can begin.

At about 8:45 a.m. CST Saturday, November 7 a mixed freight train derailed a combination of 25 auto racks and tank cars of denatured alcohol, commonly known as ethanol, near Alma. Yesterday BNSF crews stopped the leaks from 5 tank cars that were breached, placed containment boom along the shoreline of the river, and began the process of removing the remaining product from the cars. Four tank cars each released an estimated 5 to 500 gallons of ethanol. A fifth tank car released an estimated 18,000 gallons. BNSF is continuing to monitor for environmental impacts and to work on scene with the multiple federal and state agencies involved.

At this time, we estimate that the tracks will return to service Monday morning.

We regret any inconvenience yesterday’s temporary voluntary evacuation may have caused residents. For those who incurred expenses while temporarily evacuated, BNSF’s Claims Department can be reached at 763-782-3354.