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Trains derail in North Dakota, California; hazmat crews respond

In North Dakota, four cars filled with liquid asphalt and two cars filled with ethylene glycol spilled part of their loads

This photo, provided by Joshua Henderson, shows a Canadian Pacific train derailment in rural North Dakota on Sunday. (Joshua Henderson/AP)
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A freight train derailed in rural North Dakota late Sunday, spilling hazardous materials, officials said. Another derailment hours later in Southern California brought no threat to the public or the environment, authorities said.

In North Dakota, the Canadian Pacific train was traveling around 11:15 p.m. outside of Wyndmere in the southeast part of the state when 31 of 61 cars derailed. The railroad said there were no injuries and there was no danger to residents.

Canadian Pacific spokesperson Andy Cummings said an assessment of the incident determined that four cars filled with liquid asphalt and two cars filled with ethylene glycol spilled part of their loads, while a car carrying propylene sustained a small puncture and released some vapor. He said the spills have been mitigated.

Cummings said the railroad’s environmental teams at the site have begun cleanup efforts and are working with the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality on a remediation plan.

“CP is committed to the full clean-up of the spilled products and environmental restoration of the site,” he said.

The railroad said a preliminary investigation indicates a broken rail caused the derailment. Canadian Pacific earlier this month received federal approval to merge with Kansas City Southern in the nation’s first major rail merger in two decades.

The second derailment occurred in rural San Bernardino County, Calif. The Union Pacific train was carrying iron ore — the material used to make steel — when 55 cars derailed near Kelso, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said. Officials said fire engines and a hazmat team were responding to the incident, adding that one car had a minor fuel leak but there was no threat to the public or the environment.

The location is about 95 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

The two incidents are the latest in a series of derailments since the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio, in which a flammable gas leaked and ignited a public health scare. The incident has fueled calls for stricter regulation of the railroad industry.

Recent high-profile spills and derailments have spurred questions about the safety of transporting toxic chemicals over long distances and through American towns, although federal data shows chemical leaks while trains are in transit are declining.

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In East Palestine, the derailment and chemical leak prompted the evacuation of about half of the town’s 5,000 residents, air and water testing, and a massive cleanup effort. It also put a spotlight on rail safety, with local, state and federal leaders weighing new legislation. The Ohio incident was the focus of two Senate hearings this month, and the Senate is considering legislation that would increase fines for safety violations, require two-person crews in most cases, strengthen requirements and emergency plans for trains carrying hazardous materials, and enhance training and communication with first responders.