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Track to reopen after train derailment

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

BREWSTER -- The cause of a 23-car train derailment northeast of Brewster Monday night remains under investigation, although cleanup efforts have already wrapped up and the line is anticipated to open again to rail traffic early this morning.

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Union Pacific Railroad crews made quick work of the wreckage, getting all of the rail cars cleared from the track by noon on Tuesday. According to a press statement made by Mark Davis, spokesperson for the UP, Tuesday afternoon, crews continued to work on replacing 1,000 feet of track damaged as a result of the derailment. The derailment happened on a stretch of track located along Minnesota 60, southwest of Jackson County 20.

No injuries were reported as a result of the derailment, which occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. Monday. The 23 cars that split from the track were part of a 118-car train bound from St. Paul to North Platte, Neb.

Of the cars that derailed, 17 were empty, four contained sand, one was loaded with beans and another contained malt, said Davis. An empty refrigerated box car did experience a diesel fuel leak from the cooling unit of the fuel tank, but no spilling of hazardous materials occurred.

Dozens of Union Pacific rail workers were on the scene Tuesday morning, working with heavy equipment starting at 3 a.m. to remove the damaged rail cars and clean up the area. Trucks with flatbed trailers lined a nearby county road, waiting to pick up the damaged rail cars.

Initially responding to the scene Monday night were the Brewster, Okabena and Heron Lake fire departments, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Nobles County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Patrol.

John Garmer, Brewster Fire Chief, said his department was paged at approximately 8:30 p.m.

"I was pretty much in awe," said Garmer of the destruction. "The sheer magnitude of things -- it's hard to explain -- railroad cars were piled on top of each other, wheels and springs (were in the ditch). The pictures say it all."

Garmer said their first job after arriving on scene was to get a manifest from Union Pacific to determine if there were any hazardous materials aboard the rail cars that split from the track.

"Thank God it was just some silica sand and some (malt) barley," he said. He was also glad the derailment didn't occur another two miles down the track, near the Minnesota Soybean Processors plant.

In addition to containing the diesel fuel leak, he said firefighters assisted with traffic and monitored the wreckage until officials with Union Pacific arrived on the scene. All of Brewster's fire trucks were back at the hall by about midnight, Garmer said.

Approximately six trains travel over the affected line daily, and many of them were detoured to other UP routes.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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