Crews reactivated to clean up asphalt spilled into Yellowstone River in June train derailment

Crews are once again being dispatched to the Yellowstone River to clean up more asphalt identified downstream from where a train derailed in June.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality said in a news release the crews would be focusing on the river 21 to 35 miles below the derailment. That would be roughly from Columbus downstream to Park City.

The cleanup is being conducted through cooperation by a collection of agencies that includes DEQ, the Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Rail Link and Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services. 

The crews are taking advantage of lower river levels to recover the asphalt. However, lower water means the work won’t be done by boat. 

Asphalt that can’t be removed will be broken into smaller pieces and covered with sediment “to aid in the natural breakdown process,” DEQ wrote.

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So far, crews have recovered an estimated 235,813 pounds of asphalt. It is estimated from 400,000 to 440,000 pounds of molten asphalt was spilled into the Yellowstone River when 17 Montana Rail Link train cars derailed, 10 of which fell into the river, while crossing a bridge just west of Interstate 90. The cause of the accident is still

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