A train carrying munitions and hazardous materials derailed in Elko County, Nevada, last Wednesday morning.
The crash happened just before noon last Wednesday (June 19) near Interstate 80 about three miles east of the city of Wells, NV.
The derailment involved about nine flat cars, two tankers and three box cars, but the number of cars that went off the tracks has not been confirmed, Nevada Highway Patrol said. No injuries have been reported.
Rear cars thought to be carrying munitions, hand grenades, sodium nitrate and bombs stayed on the tracks, according to public safety officials in Elko.
“None of the cars involved in the derailment were carrying explosives,” a spokesperson for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said. “FRA is investigating the incident.”
A white powdery substance was released into the air following the crash, leading to the temporary closure of I-80.
The cloud was aluminum oxide, a skin irritant that is not hazardous but needs to be washed off if it comes in contact with skin, the Highway Patrol said.
Earlier Wednesday, an Elko County Sheriff’s official said a decontamination process was underway as a precaution for those who may have been exposed.
By Wednesday afternoon, the interstate had been reopened.
Some munitions were on the train for the military, but the cars carrying those munitions did not derail and there was no threat to the community, said Justine Barati, director of public and Congressional affairs for Joint Munitions Command.
Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the tracks, said earlier that vegetable oil was spilled during the derailment, but a spokeswoman later said that “some aluminum oxide, which is not hazardous, and a small amount of diesel was spilled.”
“Preliminary information shows the derailed cars were not carrying HazMat; however, there is HazMat and ammunition on board the train,” said spokeswoman Kristen South. “No one was hurt, and Union Pacific is working on site cleanup.”
A timeline for completion was not known at the time, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation, she said.