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Train derails in northern Minnesota; no injuries reported

Gov. Tim Walz said the state is working with local emergency management teams in Lancaster, located on the border with Canada, to keep the site contained.

LANCASTER, Minnesota — Editor's note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 in March 2023.

State officials are investigating after a train derailed Wednesday night in far northwestern Minnesota.

Emergency responders say 24 cars carrying a mixture of freight, including hazardous materials, derailed at around 4:30 p.m. about four miles south of Lancaster in an unpopulated area. Lancaster is located about six hours north of the Twin Cities, on the U.S. border with Canada.

In a tweet just before 10 p.m., Gov. Tim Walz said the state is working with local emergency management teams to keep the site contained. Officials with Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) say there are no leaks from the rail cars and add that no injuries have been reported from the derailment.  

A video posted on Facebook by user Chris Orwig shows part of the derailment between Lancaster and Lake Bronson.

Train derailment just happened between Lancaster and Lake Bronson Minnesota

Posted by Chris Orwig on Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said drivers heading south on Highway 59 will be detoured to Highway 175/Kittson County Road 5 so crews can continue their inspection and clean-up efforts. MnDOT said the process can potentially take up to two to three days.

Posted by Lancaster, MN Fire Department on Wednesday, May 31, 2023

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, co-sponsor of the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023, thanked all those who responded to the derailment but also expressed concern about recent derailments and the state of America's railways. 

“While I’m relieved to hear that there were no injuries and there’s no danger to residents at this time, families shouldn’t have to worry that a possible derailment could put them and their community in harm’s way," Klobuchar said in a released statement. "It’s past time to put in place stronger rail safety standards and more accountability for violations. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the bipartisan Railway Safety Act and I’m working with my colleagues to make sure it becomes law.”

If passed, the Railway Safety Act of 2023 would mandate key updates to improve rail safety protocols including increasing inspections on trains that carry hazardous materials, requiring rail carriers to have emergency response plans, and increasing penalties for rail companies when crashes happen

Wednesday's incident comes on the heels of recent derailments, both in and out of Minnesota. Just last weekend a train derailed near St. Cloud spilling tons of rock, and in March, a train went off the tracks near Raymond spilling ethanol and corn syrup.

Following an investigation into the Raymond crash, officials found a fractured rail may have been to blame. Shortly after that derailment Minnesota lawmakers visited the site, calling for higher safety standards on our railways.

On Thursday, Walz is scheduled to sign the legislature's newly passed infrastructure bill, unlocking billions of dollars in funding to improve roads, bridges, and transit systems across the state.


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