Clean up continues at site of McPherson County train derailment

A Union Pacific train derailed in McPherson Sunday morning.
A Union Pacific train derailed in McPherson Sunday morning.(WEAU)
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 12:36 PM CDT
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MCPHERSON, Kan. (KWCH) - Update: Work continues in McPherson County following a train derailment Sunday morning.

The county said a small fire caused by the derailment was quickly extinguished. Crews also worked through the night on Sunday to lessen the risk to the environment caused two of the 13 cars leaking denatured alcohol.

“We anticipate emergency crews being on the scene for most of Monday as hazmat response continues clean-up efforts. Union Pacific can begin moving rail cars once the hazmat potential is alleviated,” said the county in a release.

The county said there is no risk to the community at this time and all roads are open for normal traffic. Residents are asked to avoid the area as many agencies are working at the scene.

A Union Pacific train derailed in McPherson Sunday morning, starting a small grass fire and leaking denatured alcohol in the area, McPherson County Communications said Sunday.

The derailment happened shortly after 9:30 a.m. Sunday near the 1200 block of S. Main in McPherson.

Denatured alcohol is highly flammable, and can contain toxic substances such as methanol, acetone, or gasoline. Common products containing denatured alcohol include household cleaning products, fuels, and hand sanitizers, as well as other industrial products. It’s not safe for human consumption.

McPherson’s communications department said the leak is “no threat to the community,” and has not reported any injuries.

The leaked denatured alcohol did enter a nearby stream that feeds into Wolf Creek, McPherson Fire Department Chief TJ Wyssmann said, but was contained before it entered any other water sources.

“There is no reason to have cause for concern,” Wyssmann said. “The product did get into a tributary and we quickly, with some assistance, got the tributary (contained) ... So we stopped that product from getting into Wolf Creek or further from the actual site of the incident.”

The grass fire was put out by the McPherson Fire Department shortly after it began. Emergency responders and police are also helping clean up and contain the leak.

This is the second Union Pacific train derailment in Kansas in just over a week, following a derailment in Sumner County. There were no injuries or hazardous materials involved in that derailment.

We’ll provide more details as they become available.