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Sticky situation: Train hauling corn syrup derails near Nevada, Arizona border

Updated March 16, 2023 - 4:13 pm

TOPOCK, Ariz. — A freight train carrying corn syrup — not hazardous materials — derailed in western Arizona, near the state’s border with California and Nevada, BNSF Railway said.

Railway spokesperson Lena Kent said there were no injuries in the derailment near Topock and, according to preliminary reports, no hazardous materials involved.

Topock is about 125 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

A spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, Anita Mortensen, said that she was not aware of any spills or leaks.

The cause of the derailment of approximately eight cars is under investigation, Kent said in a statement.

The main track is blocked and Kent said it is not known when it will be reopened.

The derailment comes amid heightened attention to rail safety nationwide following a fiery derailment last month in Ohio and a string of derailments since then that have been grabbing headlines, including ones in Michigan, Alabama and other states.

In Arizona, Mortensen had earlier said the train was carrying hazardous materials. The derailment occurred near milepost 9 of Interstate 40, Mortensen said, which is a rural, nonresidential area about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Lake Havasu City.

The sheriff’s office had notified the National Transportation Safety Board and BNSF, the two entities that she said would be responding to the accident.

The NTSB also did not respond to requests for comment.

Last month, a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border, igniting a fire and causing hundreds of people to be evacuated.

Officials seeking to avoid an uncontrolled blast intentionally released and burned toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, sending flames and black smoke high into the sky. That left people questioning the potential health impacts even as authorities maintained they were doing their best to protect people.

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