Disaster  Emergency Service patch copy (003)

Train Derailment, Reed Point 2023

On June 24, 2023, near Reed Point, Montana, a bridge collapsed derailing 17 of 52 freight train rail cars resulting in 10 cars entering into the Yellowstone River. Compromised rail cars spilled molten sulfur and asphalt into the river.  Local, state, and federal partners worked to assess impacts to natural resources and develop appropriate clean-up removal and restoration efforts.

On July 22, 2023, completion of the new bridge allowed resumed operations for train traffic. To date, teams have collected approximately 235,813 pounds of asphalt material. The mass balance, or total volume, for the asphalt material that entered the river, has been calculated at approximately 419,442 pounds of material. Therefore, crews collected over approximately 55% of spilled material.

As of August 15, eight snakes and eleven birds died after encountering the asphalt material; one snake encountered the material and was released back into the environment for 20 total confirmed animals impacted by the material.

As of October 10, 2023, crews will be working to recover actionable asphalt on river miles 21- 35.  Unified Command has determined that additional shoreline assessment and asphalt recovery is warranted this fall based on current environmental conditions, including low water levels, that have exposed actionable asphalt not previously identified.

This incident is being managed under a Transition Plan announced on September 7. Changing river conditions over the winter and early spring, including shifting sandbars, may reveal additional recoverable asphalt material. Next spring the cleanup will move into Phase 2, where teams will reassess impacted areas and remove additional recoverable asphalt.

Members of the public are encouraged to avoid contact with the material and report observed deposits to