Tempe Train Derailment is Second in One Month, Officials Say

train derailment

Tempe Police Department A 95-car freight train derailed near Tempe Town Lake on the morning of July 29, 2020.

A freight train carrying chemicals and other materials derailed early Wednesday morning in Arizona, catching fire and causing a portion of a bridge to collapse.

The 95-car Union Pacific train derailed around 6 am while crossing the Salt River Union Pacific Bridge in Tempe, AZ Central reported. The south side of the bridge collapsed, while around eight-to-10 cars caught on fire.

Several cars, carrying lumbar and other hazardous materials, fell into an empty park underneath, the outlet continued.

At least one was carrying “cyclohexane, a highly flammable chemical that is used to make nylon or used as a paint thinner,” ABC 15 added.

The City of Tempe said in a news release that one of the cars carrying the flammable chemical leaked into a storm drain that “disperses into the riverbed on the west side of the dam,” the station continued.

No other cars were reported leaking and testing is underway, ABC 15 indicated.

“It is unknown what, if any, impacts the derailment will have on wildlife habitats in the riverbed and surrounding riparian areas,” according to the city’s release, the station said.

Tempe Fire Chief Greg Ruiz said during a press briefing that no crew members were injured, AZ Central reported. The conductor was treated for smoke inhalation and one firefighter was treated for dehydration.

Here’s what you need to know:


The Cause is Still Under Investigation

AZ Central reported that Federal Railroad Administration investigators will begin a “preliminary investigation” at the derailment site, according to a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates civil aviation accidents and other modes of transportation, will also investigate, a spokesperson told the outlet.

“We are still in the very early stages of this investigation,” the spokesperson said to AZ Central. “We would not be able to comment on anything that may have caused this accident.”

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir disclosed to the outlet that the FBI will be involved in the investigation. So far, there are no indicators of criminal activity, she added.


Another Derailment Happened on the Same Bridge in June

train

GettyAmtrak’s California Zephyr passes a Union Pacific train along the tracks during its daily 2,438-mile trip to Emeryville/San Francisco from Chicago that takes roughly 52 hours on March 24, 2017 in Green River, United States.

Union Pacific officials confirmed in a statement to AZ Central that one of its trains derailed on the Tempe Town Lake bridge on June 26, with 12 cars veering off-track. The Salt River Union Pacific Bridge dates back to 1912 and is mainly trafficked by cargo trains, the outlet added.

AZ Central reported that “it doesn’t appear the city alerted residents about the June 26 derailment.”

“Three hours after the derailment, Tempe Police said on Twitter that Rio Salado Parkway would be closed for ‘railroad repair’ for up to two days,” the outlet wrote. “The department didn’t mention the train had derailed.”

It also noted that Tempe Mayor Corey Woods expressed no knowledge of the June derailment during the Wednesday briefing.

“He said was still ‘actively learning about the earlier derailment’ and couldn’t speak to that issue yet,” AZ Central said.

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