UP: train handling played role in derailment

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Although an extensive investigation is ongoing, Union Pacific Railroad has identified a possible cause in the train derailment in Dupo last Tuesday. 

“Our preliminary review indicates train handling played a role in the derailment,” said Kristen South, senior director of corporate communications and media relations with Union Pacific. 

Approximately 14 railcars derailed in the incident, including at least one carrying a flammable liquid called methyl isobutyl ketone, which is often used as a solvent. 

That oil-like substance can cause minor eye and respiratory irritation, but Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Public Information Officer Kim Biggs said there were no ongoing concerns about air quality in the area. 

Biggs said the United States Environmental Protection Agency was on scene to assist with monitoring air quality, though it did not conduct its own tests because it was satisfied with what the railroad did. 

First responders from municipalities in Illinois and Missouri were at the Dupo rail yard for several hours battling the fire that occurred after the train derailed. The school and some nearby homes were briefly evacuated as a precaution. 

Dupo’s first responders thanked all those who helped with the incident. 

“The coordinated cooperation of all involved transformed a situation that could have been much, much worse into a manageable incident with no injuries to personnel or residents,” Dupo Fire Department Capt Monte Miller said in a statement. “The response Tuesday exhibited the talent and dedication of the first responders, village, county, state and school district officials in our area and the support that comes from the community makes it easier for us to do our jobs in times of danger. As always, ‘We’re here if you need us.’” 

Dupo Police Chief Kevin Smith likewise expressed gratitude to the first responders, school district and residents. 

“It was a blessing to have such great cooperation from everyone involved,” he said. “The outpouring of support from the community was a big help, too.” 

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