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Coal train derails along Clark Fork River in western Montana

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Coal train derailment near Noxon

About 30 cars of a Montana Rail Link freight train carrying coal derailed Sunday near Noxon, just east of the Montana-Idaho border.

NOXON — A coal train carrying 30 cars derailed next to the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir near Noxon in northwestern Montana late Sunday night, according to the train’s operator, Montana Rail Link.

Company spokesperson Jim Lewis said in a statement that the train was not hauling hazardous material and that nobody was injured in the accident.

Sanders County Emergency Manager Bill Naegeli said that he hadn’t been out to the scene yet, so he couldn’t provide any additional information. He did confirm that coal isn’t considered a hazardous material, however.

“It comes from the ground to begin with and it’s a fossil fuel and it doesn’t break down,” Naegeli said before the connection to his phone broke up.

He said the wreck occurred at about mile marker 20 on Highway 200, between Noxon and Heron.

Noxon is located about 50 miles west of Thompson Falls and about 137 miles northwest of Missoula.

Cabinet Gorge Reservoir is part of the Clark Fork River that eventually flows into the Columbia River and then, finally, the Pacific Ocean.

Missoula resident Nate Haflich was out boating on the reservoir on Monday and took photos of the scene that show large amounts of coal that had spilled right on the shoreline.

The incident remains under investigation and it is unclear how long the tracks will be closed.

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