By MEGAN TILK
St. Joseph News-Press
ATCHISON, Kan. — A train heading westbound through Atchison derailed at the U.S. Highway 59 and Fourth Street intersection at 5:55 p.m. Friday.
Between 25 and 30 train cars were involved, but no one was injured on the train or at the intersection, said Atchison Fire Chief Michael McDermed.
The Atchison Police Department quickly secured the scene. Mr. McDermed said a hazardous materials response team would more than likely be flown in as a precautionary measure because three train cars contained radioactive material. The cars were considered a low-gradeconcern because they didn’t appear to be damaged in any way.
Officials weren’t sure Friday night what caused the derailment. Mr. McDermed said BNSF Railway officials and the hazardous materials team would have to be on the scene before the determination could be made.
Train and vehicle traffic through the intersection was rerouted. The train rails and roadway at the intersection sustained heavy damage in multiple areas. The tracks involved are considered a major westward route through Atchison, and trains will probably be rerouted for several days until the tracks can be repaired, Mr. McDermed said.
An Atchison man, Robert Jacobson, witnessed the accident. He said he regularly watches the trains as they pass.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like this when it actually happened,” Mr. Jacobson said. “It was pretty noisy, like thunder.”
The train was carrying a variety of items, which were itemized on a list provided by the driver of the train to authorities. Many of the items were commodity type materials. One grain car did appear to have a slight leak, Mr. McDermed said.