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PASCO, WA – The area around a BNSF train crash and derailment was evacuated after a hazardous material spill in a Pasco, WA rail yard on Monday, November 7, 2011.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train

Pasco is located in Franklin County Washington in the southeastern part of the state about 227 miles southeast of Seattle and about 136 miles southwest of Spokane.

The accident happened at about 3:40 a.m. in the morning on November 7, 2011 in a switching yard in Pasco near Oregon Street. Forty-six rail cars rolled into another 31 car train with two locomotives. As many as a dozen rail cars and two locomotives jumped the tracks in the mishap. Approximately 2000 gallons of ethanol spilled in the aftermath.

Map showing location of Pasco WA and the switching yard near Oregon St. where a BNSF train crashed and derailed and caused an ethanol spill, forcing an evacuation within a one-mile radius.

Although officials have not released a definitive cause for the accident, it is believed that the cause of the crash and derailment was due to a broken coupler that failed to stop the rolling train. The incident is currently under investigation.

The website reports:

KEPR’s media partner KONA radio is reporting no injuries and no fire after the accident, which is believed to have been caused by a broken coupler, which allowed some of the cars from a moving train to detach and strike a stationary train, although details have not been confirmed by KEPR Action News.

Fortunately, there were no fires and no reports of any injuries as a result of the mishap. Three railroad workers were reported to have jumped out of the way in time and avoided injury from the crash.

Hazmat crews were called in to handle the situation. The area surrounding the hazardous spill site within a one-mile radius was evacuated. Fire crews used foam to contain the spill. Within a few hours, about 20 people from nearby businesses were allowed to return to work.

In addition to the spilled ethanol, corn syrup and calcium chloride were also among the materials that were being carried by the rail cars.

FELA Lawyer News Blog is a FELA, train accident and personal injury blog that publishes up to date train accidents and FELA legal news from across the United States. The Federal Employers ‘Liability Act, (FELA) allows injured railroad workers to recover compensation based on the negligence of the railroad company, in lieu of workers’ compensation. FELA defines negligence as the railroad company’s failure to use reasonable care.

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