Railcar Loaded with Chlorine Derails in North Platte


Photo Courtesy of Ginger Ady

A potential disaster was averted in the City of North Platte this morning after a rail car loaded with chlorine derailed just to the East of Bailey yards.

The derailment occurred around 6:30am.

Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says the car came free during sorting and rolled down a track into a derailing device.

Fortunately for the city, the car stayed intact and did not leak any of the potentially dangerous gas.

The Centers for Disease Control lists the following symptoms of chlorine gas exposure:

  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Burning pain, redness, and blisters on the skin if exposed to gas, skin injury similar to frostbite if exposed to liquid chlorine
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (may appear immediately if high concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled, or may be delayed if low concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled)
  • Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) within 2 to 4 hours

North Platte Police and Fire were quick in their response, and quickly blocked of access to the area. A hazardous materials team from the Union Pacific was also on scene.  A portion of Front street was closed, as well as the Buffalo Bill overpass, but was soon opened once the situation was assessed and contained.  Businesses in the area were also informed of the situation.

According the the North Platte 911 Center, this was all done as a precautionary measure.

According to UP Officials, a crane was being brought in from Scottsbluff to set the car upright.

Union Pacific officials continue to investigate the accident.

  • Rusty

    Quick my ass…..derailed at 6:30….I drove right by it unknowingly going to work at bout 6:55. North Platte, Union Pacific, and Hazmat dropped the ball big time on this one putting thousands of lives at risk. Shame on all of you, not only did you put our lives at risk, you put our families lives at risk also.

    Current score: 12
    • Hmmm…

      Yeah i had no idea about this until like 1:00 today. pretty sad when i only live a few blocks from where this happened. what if they would of found a leak or accidently caused a leak of some sort…then what?? i believe the UP did drop the ball big time!!! this is pretty sad!! i would rather be warned that there is a possibility of a leak and make my own choice of evacuating rather than finding out after they find a leak(if there was to be one). i understand that they wouldnt want to cause the town to be in a panic but come on these are lives!!

      Current score: 2
    • Bob

      Not saying it was quick but the car did not derail until about 0655.

      Current score: 0
  • Vince

    “Davis said there is a device in place, in the event that a car is moving too fast at this point, to automatically derail the car, which it did. He said the device did its job, but the investigation will continue on why the machinery in the sort track let the tanker get to the end of the track as fast as it did.”

    In other words, UP will push and push until they find SOMEONE who they can hold accountable. No way they’re going to admit their equipment is at fault and allow “mechanical error” be the final result.

    Current score: 6
    • UPWatchdawg

      Since UP will find fault more than likely in an employees actions I think management should be held accountable for the lack of communication with the public. None of the management in Bailey Yards is qualified to say its ok.EMPTY is not EMPTY

      Current score: 5
  • steve

    I drove right past it too with my young child in the car and this was also close to 7:00 a.m. and they sure didn’t have anything blocked off at that time!!!!

    Current score: 2
  • UPWatchdawg

    What Mark Davis is failing to tell the media or the public for that matter is when a tank car is empty it still has up to a few hundred gallons of the last commodity it hauled. So it truly isnt empty. The RailRoad and Emeregency Response Teams here in NP have maps that indicate what would happen if chlorine was to have spilled and how long it takes to overcome the city. Its scary and no way can that town be evacuated in the 20+ minutes it would take to overcome the city with the wrong wind direction !!!

    Current score: 6
  • concerned

    Why is the public kept in the dark about the hazards. If that tank ruptured there would have been many deaths. To alarm the public they set off the tornado sirens. That sends people to there basements, which is the last place you want to be when chlorine leaks and the gas spreads. For years the Sheriffs office, North Platte police and the mayors office has been asks what their plans are for a chemical spill at the yards. Their answer is “we’ll check on that”. Why do we not practice a response to this instead of a terrorist takeover at the airport. What would be more likely to happen? Let’s be ready for this as a population ahead of the problem instead of saying Maybe we should have!

    Current score: 5
  • Hank

    UP won’t fix the retarders in the East end of the bowl so there was nothing to stop it from leaving the bowl. This has always been a problem because they don’t want to spend the money.

    Current score: 3
  • Deb

    I knew about it clear in Grand Island. It was on FB from KNOP before 7 this morning.

    Current score: 0
  • KCNE

    I thought I heard a tornado siren this morning about 6:55 and then again about 7am. Was that supposed to be our signal that there was something going on in the yards?

    Current score: 1
  • gonzo

    I drove over the Buffalo overpass at 7:30 this morning, it wasn’t blocked

    Current score: 1
  • oldman3066

    Strange how they have shortened Bailey Yard!!!!!! Last I knew Bailey Yard started 2 miles west of Birwood and then just east of the Hi-way 30 overpass. Now for the tanker to get to that switch just east of the Buffalo Bill Overpass from the east hump and bowl it would have had to have traveled on one of the nine tracks thru the east departure yard and all of it’s manual switches, and by the Superintendent’s Office Building where train crews get their train assignments to start their shift, before getting into the departure yard. Oh yea, and this all happened during one of the shift changes at the yard. Guess everyone was a sleep at the time especially in the control room.

    Current score: 2
    • Bob

      There are only 6 dep tracks and its always been that way.

      Current score: 0
  • concerned

    Not just U.P. at fault, Why hasn’t the City of North Platte or the county done any training or setting up an alarm system to let the people know what to do in case of a spill. With the amount of derailings in the yards and the amount of hazardous materials going through the yards every day, It is unbelievable the city and county are doing nothing. It seems citizens lives are not as important as bonuses.

    Current score: 3
  • Disappointed

    It would appear that the City of North Platte is on the UP’s pocket. Again.

    Current score: 2
  • NP man

    Scarey situation!!Its only a matter of time before a hazardous leak happens..The city needs to come up with a warning sytem and evacuation and inform the public..i assume most everyone knows wat to do during a tornado and understands the safety plan..My guess is not many know wat to do during a hazardous leak..

    Current score: 3
  • Rich

    If you are concerned about the response or methods used to protect the public the person you should talk to is the Emergency Response Coordinator, they are the governmental appointed persons to require companies that ship or produce Hazmat to file their RMPs(Risk Management Plans).

    West Central District Health Department
    Sally Brecks
    Emergency Response Coordinator
    111 North Dewey, PO
    Box 648
    North Platte, NE
    Phone: (308) 696-1201
    ext. 260
    , Cell: (308) 530

    Fax: (308) 696

    Web site:
    (Lincoln, Logan,&McPherson counties

    Current score: 4
  • Vince

    oldman3066 is correct. I’ve been wondering the same thing since hearing that it rolled out of the East Hump yesterday. How did a single lone car travel from the East Hump, through whatever rail it was assigned to roll into, and all the way down to where it derailed without a single person noticing? You’d think any car, let alone a tank car, traveling under its own power for that amount of distance would have been seen by at least one or more people, especially since it’s supposed to be watched on camera by 2 separate persons at the East Hump, and have to travel past 2 towers that are facing the rail it traveled.

    Current score: 4
  • dumbass

    Gotta luv the UP. They were already pointing fingers at someone besides themselves. They r saying the retarders used to stop cars from rolling were contaminated by the previous cars that were in the rail. With that being said they can over look the fact it was UPs equipment that was at fault for not stopping the tank car.

    Current score: 3
  • UPWatchdog

    UP finds it easier to point the finger at someone or something else.

    Current score: 2