Oil train explodes, spills crude into wetlands

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ALICEVILLE, ALA. — A 90-car train derailed and exploded in rural Alabama early Friday, spilling its crude oil cargo into surrounding wetlands and igniting a fire so intense that officials said it would take 24 hours to burn out. No one was injured.

The train was crossing a timber trestle above a wetlands near Aliceville late Thursday when 20 railcars and two locomotives derailed..

On Friday morning, about 10 train cars were burning, according to train owner Genesee & Wyoming.

Scott Hughes, spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, said it's difficult to determine how much oil spilled into the wetlands, because responders couldn't get close to the fire.

The Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the cleanup and monitoring of air quality, spokesman James Pinkney said.

Don Hartley, a regional coordinator for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said the train likely originated in North Dakota.

The Los Angeles Times reported that railroads carry 25 times more crude oil than they were five years ago. And though railroads have improved their safety in recent years, moving oil on tank cars is only about half as safe as in pipelines.