A freight train transporting ethanol and corn syrup derailed in Raymond, Minnesota, which unfortunately caused several cars to explode into flames. The local civilians in the vicinity were immediately asked to evacuate. Residents had to rush initially when a half-mile evacuation zone was ordered around the crash site.
The company that runs the train, BNSF Railway, claimed that there were no other hazardous materials on the train and that no injuries due to the derailment were reported. Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz was briefed on the derailment, and later he visited the site. Residents were eventually allowed to return home late after the initial evacuation on Thursday morning. The civilians had taken shelter at a school and a church in nearby Prinsburg.
As per the Minnesota Department of Transportation, road detours stayed in place, and Highway 23 was closed from Kandiyohi County Road 1 to Chippewa County Road 1. Ethanol is widely used in gasoline in the US to mitigate air pollution from fossil fuels and to push the use of biofuels, according to the Department of Energy.
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According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), pure ethanol isn’t poisonous and also is biodegradable, and after spillage, it breaks down into harmless substances. Like petroleum fuels, biofuels are flammable and must be transported carefully, according to the EIA.
EIA noted that, if burned, pure biofuels tend to produce fewer particulate emissions, unlike sulfur dioxide, and air toxics than fossil fuel products. BNSF Railway is one of the US’s largest freight railroad companies and operates in 28 states. The Minnesota train derailment is the latest in at least half a dozen railroad incidents across the US in as many weeks.