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A coal train derailment in Nebraska involving 31 cars sparks emergency response

Train carrying coal derails in Nebraska
Train carrying coal derails in Nebraska 00:13

A train derailed in Nebraska early Tuesday, according to Union Pacific Railroad. About 31 cars carrying coal derailed in Gothenburg, Nebraska, the railroad said in a statement to CBS News. 

No one was injured, cleanup has begun, and the three tracks near the derailment, which occurred around 1:45 a.m., were reopened at around 8 a.m. While early reports stated hazardous materials were spilled, Union Pacific said "no hazmat was involved." The cause of the incident is being investigated. 

Another Union Pacific train derailed in Riverbank, California, on Monday, according to CBS Sacramento. The derailment, involving four cars, happened around 3:45 a.m., Union Pacific officials said. There were no injuries and no hazmat involved. The incident is being investigated. 

The news comes after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month, forcing hundreds of nearby residents to evacuate for several days. A total of 38 rail cars derailed, and another 12 cars were damaged by a fire. Hazardous materials were in 11 of the derailed cars.

Residents were evacuated so crews could release chemicals for a controlled burn.

Substances including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene – all materials that are widely considered to be toxic – were on the derailed cars. These chemicals could damage humans and the environment. 

Norfolk Southern said Monday that 15,000 pounds of soil and 1.1 million gallons of water have been removed from the area due to contamination. The railway did not specify which hazardous materials were found in the water and soil, but did say the materials will be transported to landfills and disposed of safely.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident. Many of the derailed rail cars remain at the site but have been decontaminated – they will "be scrapped and moved off-site for disposal" when the investigation is over, Norfolk Southern said.

According to employees with the railway, the train had broken down at least once before derailing in Ohio. Employees were concerned with the train's excessive length and weight. It was 151 cars, 9,300 feet long and 18,000 tons.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned Norfolk Southern to fulfill its promises to clean up the mess and help East Palestine recover. He also announced reforms to improve the safety of the rail system. 

Another hazardous spill also made headlines this month. A truck carrying extremely hazardous nitric acid was involved in a crash on an Arizona highway, prompting officials to evacuate the immediate area, including the University of Arizona's Science and Tech Park. Officials also ordered residents within a mile of the incident to shelter in place.

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