The rail cars that derailed over and into the Yellowstone River have now been removed from the accident site between Reed Point and Columbus, Montana. Cleanup crews have also recovered over 12,000 pounds of material.

That's the latest info from the daily update provided by the Unified Command, which consists of the local, state, and federal agencies responding to the June 24th train derailment and railroad bridge collapse.

The biggest question it seems most Montanans are interested in right now is: when will the railroad bridge be back up and running? Our supply chains have been battered in recent years due to the excessive response to COVID-19. Rail traffic is now being diverted north, congesting traffic along Montana's Hi Line. Additionally, a union leader has expressed concerns that rail worker jobs could be lost as a result of the rail disruptions.

According to Wednesday's Unified Command press release, "Additional resources continue being brought on site to assist with bridge reconstruction."

As for cleanup of any of the asphalt material that is showing up downstream, over 12,000 pounds of material has been recovered. An organization called The Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) apparently observed and collected just a second dead animal. It's a garter snake.

Consistent water testing has also shown that there is no known risk to drinking water, so water testing will no longer be performed on a daily basis.

Chad Anderson, On Scene Coordinator for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality: This is good news, we have not seen any impacts to water quality. We are able to place our focus on cleanup and recovery.

A second public meeting will be held Thursday, July 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbus High School Gym, 433 N 3rd St, Columbus, MT 59019 and via Zoom. Click here for more details.

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