Skip to main content

Oil train-truck accident spills only flour, but raises rail safety concerns

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A collision between an oil train and a semi truck in a southeast metro suburb Sunday afternoon didn't cause any injuries, but raised anew some urgent questions about rail safety in Minnesota.

The BNSF train collided with the semi, which was full of flour, near First Street and Hastings Avenue in St. Paul Park about 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The crash tore a hole in the side of the trailer, spilling bags of flour on the road and causing the intersection to be closed for several hours, according to the South Washington County Bulletin.

The train stayed on the tracks and wasn't damaged, and no one was injured, according to the Bulletin.

The train was traveling southbound on the tracks while the truck, operated by Werner Enterprises, was traveling westbound on First Street when it failed to cross the tracks in time, St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke said, according to the Bulletin.

There are flashing lights at the intersection to alert drivers when a train is approaching, but it does not have a safety arm to block traffic, BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said, according to KSTP.

McBeth said it's unclear whether the lights were flashing at the time, and investigators will try to determine that.

The St. Paul Park and Newport police departments responded to the accident.

Crews were cleaning up the flour for several hours after the accident, but the train began moving again shortly after 4 p.m., according to the Bulletin.

Oil train safety questions

Although the accident didn't result in any damage to the oil train, it left local leaders concerned about the safety of that particular intersection and oil trains in general.

The intersection is just a short distance away from the Northern Tier oil refinery, and Mayor Franke said the accident could easily have been a lot worse.

“Depending on how the truck was hit, where the truck was hit ... it could have been an explosion upon an explosion,” Franke said to the Bulletin. “This is the best case scenario here.”

State Rep. Dan Schoen, who represents the area in the Legislature, said in a series of tweets that he's disappointed that lawmakers haven't done more to address oil train safety.

The city has been working to close the intersection to traffic, but needs to acquire some nearby property from a private owner, according to the Bulletin.

The crossing is also one of several scheduled for safety improvements after the state Department of Transportation did a rail safety study looking specifically at the main rail corridors that carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across Minnesota.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Lost 1-year-old reunited with parents in Brooklyn Park

The girl was found by a concerned citizen around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-12-27 at 8.33.49 AM

For 2nd time, Minnesota farm devastated by deadly fire

Around 1,000 goats and a litter of puppies were killed when a barn caught fire on Friday.


Fleeing suspect crashes, killing innocent driver in Brooklyn Park

The suspect fled police in Osseo and was going south on County Road 81.

1497 S Ferry St, Anoka, MN 55303, United States - August 2021

Body found tangled with debris in the Mississippi River

The individual's name has not yet been released.

Northtown Mall Carnival

Around 100 kids run from carnival fight into Northtown Mall

Police say a large fight was happening on the ferris wheel before kids fled into the mall.

Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.29.03 AM

Former state senator Scott Jensen endorsed by GOP for governor

Jensen beat to multiple other hopefuls for the endorsement at Saturday's convention.


NWS already monitoring Thursday for severe weather in MN

Monday-Wednesday should be fantastic weather in Minnesota.


Body of missing Mankato woman believed to have been found

A canoer found the body in a swamp near Eagle Lake Friday.

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP endorses attorney general, secretary of state candidates

Kim Crockett was endorsed as the party's candidate for secretary of state, while Jim Schultz won the endorsement for attorney general.


Volunteer firefighter identified as man killed during Thursday storms

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office confirmed that 63-year-old Ryan Erickson died when a grain bin fell on him.

Juan Ramos, standing outside of his Taco Chon Mexican Grill, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Firm takes on case defending Taco Chon against Taco John's lawsuit

The local Mexican restaurant is fighting a case presented by Taco John's over naming rights, among other things.