Controlled detonation of hazmat at site of Juab County train derailment generates large explosion

Officials perform a controlled detonation at the scene of a train derailment in Juab County, Utah, March 30, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Juab County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Cleanup efforts involving a massive train derailment took an explosive turn Sunday evening when crews performed a controlled detonation of hazardous materials that had spilled from several of the train cars.

A derailed Union Pacific train leaves cars scattered along the rails in Juab County, Utah, March 30, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Fire Marshall’s Office, St. George News

The detonation was performed at the scene of the train derailment involving 24 cars in a rural area of Juab County south of Eureka. No one was injured during the derailment of the Union Pacific train, but cars containing propane and biodiesel spilled their contents.

During the initial cleanup effort, officials determined a controlled detonation of the chemicals would be the safest way to mitigate the materials’ volatility, according to a statement released by Juab County Sheriff’s Office.

“In total there were 9 rail tankers with propane and 2 rail tankers with bio-diesel that were breached with explosives and ignited,” the Sheriff’s Office stated.

The detonation was performed by an expert in the field at 9:30 p.m. It resulted in a loud explosion followed by a large fire ball, which lit up the night sky.

A video of the explosion was shared to the Juab County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Fire crews remained onsite throughout the night while the flammables burned away.

Union Pacific officials are investigating the derailment, which occurred Saturday morning. Additional personnel from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality are assisting.

The massive cleanup effort is being performed with assistance from firefighters from various responding departments and agencies.

Read more: Union Pacific train derails in Juab County, prompting multiagency response

The Sheriff’s Office says it anticipates the cleanup effort will be ongoing for several more days.

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