Independent Record: Guest View by Wendy Weaver: A call to action for the Yellowstone River

Jun 5, 2024 | News Release

On June 24, a train carrying molten asphalt derailed as a result of a bridge collapse plunging 10 loaded cars into the Yellowstone River near Columbus, Montana.


As much as 500,000 pounds of liquid asphalt was spilled, contaminating the Yellowstone River for miles downstream. Despite posing a threat to human and wildlife health and river ecology, only a fraction of the molten asphalt was removed from the Yellowstone. Thousands of pounds of asphalt sludge remain in our beloved Yellowstone.


Many of Montana’s railway bridges are over 100 years old, and are often made of timber. They are not inspected and replaced with the frequency of automobile infrastructure. We applaud the Public Service Commission for repeating their past legislative session request for more capacity to ensure the safety of railroad infrastructure. Only a few months prior to the derailment, this request was made and turned down by the Montana Legislature. We certainly hope the Legislature will reconsider providing needed funding for the future safety of humans, wildlife and our prized blue-ribbon rivers.


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