BNSF cleans up second derailment in 3 weeks at Springfield rail yard

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- BNSF Railway is cleaning up a second derailment at the Springfield rail yard in the last three weeks.

The rail yard is located off of West Division near Kansas Expressway.

The latest derailment Monday involved seven cars the rolled off the tracks around 5 p.m. All of the cars carried loads of coal. Four of the the cars turned over on its sides.

Despite the mess, BNSF representative Andy Williams says it did not lead to any disruptions.

Five train cars derailed January 14 in the same rail yard. Those cars carried hazardous materials, but did not leak. Williams says it is unusual to have derailments happen so close together, but says it does happen.

The latest derailment was less than a quarter-mile from the January 14th accident and Monday's incident posed no safety hazard, which was in sharp contrast to the derailment on January 14th which caused some tense moments when it was determined that some of the cars were carrying anhydrous ammonia and ethylene oxide, potentially dangerous chemicals that could have forced an evacuation of homes in the area.

"(It was) an inhalation hazard which could be deadly if there was leakage and it was strong enough," explained Springfield Police Lt. Curt Ringgold at the time of the January incident. "We were looking at anywhere between three-tenths and half-a-mile of removing people in that area."

Thankfully, there was no leakage but with so much train traffic passing through the area each day, residents may be wondering just how safe they are if hazardous spills were to happen.

"The Burlington Northern railroad has a very effective response plan in place that they utilize," explained Larry Woods, the Director of the Springfield-Greene Co. Office of Emergency Management.

He gives and BNSF, the largest rail freight carrier in North America, high-marks for its response to accidents.

"They have in-house folks that are trained in that as well as contractors that are on-call 24/7 to come in and remediate any type of hazard," he said.

The Office of Emergency Management also gets involved in dangerous situations like the January incident. In fact they have a team specifically assigned to drawing up plans for any disasters that might threaten the public.

"We've actually identified over 30 hazards that could impact the city of Springfield and Greene County, Woods said. " And so our plan is designed to address those hazards in totality. From natural hazards such as severe weather, tornadoes, flooding and winter storms to community health emergencies to terrorism."

So you may be able to rest a little easier knowing that someone is out there looking out for you.

"I'm not gonna say that there's not anything out there that we haven't thought of," Woods emphasized. "Because as soon as you say that there will be one thing that comes up. But I think we do a pretty good job of it."