Questions continue to swirl over an explosion that triggered evacuations at the world’s largest rail yard in Nebraska.
Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is in the western part of the state. It encompasses nearly 3,000 acres and spans eight miles at its widest point.
This train derailment prompted the evacuation of several homes on Thursday, when it occurred.
Union Pacific said this rail car exploded around 12 in the afternoon, and those evacuation orders were quickly issued to the area, but they were lifted only five hours later in the evening.
A railroad shipping container transported perchloric acid, a precursor to rocket fuel, but authorities don't expect any lingering environmental issues from the blast.
Yet, the residents evacuated from their homes harbor deep concern due to the volatile nature of perchloric acid upon contact with any organic material, be it dirt or wood.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the situation, but they are not investigating.
Union Pacific issued a statement saying they are leading the investigation into what caused this train car to explode.
Dennis Thompson is the fire chief here in North Platte, and he said there is no ongoing risk to residents or rail workers here at the rail yard.
He did say, however, that they are consistently monitoring air and water quality to make sure that nothing changes.
He pointed out that this situation is different from the East Palestine derailment in Ohio in February. In this situation, most of the chemical was burned off, and any leftover residue was safely contained.
He said, Hazmat crews were careful to capture any of the water used to put out this fire to make sure that it did not seep into the ground water with any of that perchloric acid.
There were no injuries in this explosion at Union Pacific because it was contained in such a small area of this rail yard, and most of the operations were able to continue.
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