Investigation Underway for Accidental Blast Near Union Pacific Railyard

by Anna

OMAHA, Neb. — An explosion that prompted evacuations near Union Pacific’s extensive railyard in western Nebraska is now under investigation. Preliminary findings suggest that the blast was accidental, but the exact cause remains unknown.

The Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s office is collaborating with Union Pacific and experts from the Federal Railroad Administration to determine the cause of the explosion, which occurred last Thursday in North Platte. The explosion involved a stationary container carrying perchloric acid, a substance used in the production of explosives and various food and drug products.


Adam Matzner, the chief investigator for the fire marshal’s office, stated on Tuesday that no signs of criminal activity have been discovered so far, indicating that the incident is likely accidental. However, the investigation is ongoing.


A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration provided no additional details about their investigation.


Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South confirmed the railroad’s cooperation with state and federal agencies. The company is also conducting its own review to understand what transpired and how rail employees responded. This internal review aims to identify ways to enhance future incident responses.


The local fire chief expressed confidence that there would be no lingering issues or contamination concerns stemming from the explosion and subsequent fire. Most of the acid inside the shipping container burned off during the incident, and any residue was contained at the scene. The fire did not spread beyond the container that exploded, and air monitoring did not detect toxic chemical levels.

As a precaution, authorities evacuated an area within a one-mile radius of the explosion site in the west end of Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard for several hours. However, due to the explosion’s proximity to the city of North Platte, which has a population of about 23,000 people, only a small number of homes were affected.

The North Platte incident generated thick smoke but was not comparable to the major Norfolk Southern derailment that occurred in eastern Ohio in February, which raised national concerns about railroad safety and prompted calls for reforms.

Union Pacific, one of the largest railroads in the United States, operates a vast network of over 32,000 miles of track across 23 Western states.

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