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


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

Kirk Cousins

Report: Kellen Mond has COVID, Cousins among players out of practice

The team is scheduled to practice on Saturday night.

USPS packages

Two Ramsey County men sentenced in mail theft scheme

Sonny Vang Xiong was sentenced to three years in prison, while Davis Her was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Jeff Gladney

Jeff Gladney's ex-girlfriend files $1 million civil lawsuit

The civil lawsuit accuses Gladney of assaulting the woman for over two hours.

vaccine, covid

St. Paul care home group will mandate COVID vaccines for staff

It comes amid reports of COVID outbreaks at homes where residents are all vaccinated, but staff are not.

Jail handcuffs arrest

Starbuck man charged with uploading, sharing child pornography

The 47-year-old was arrested after a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.


Boy, 11, seriously injured after 'fall' that police now suspect was abuse

It was initially reported that the boy slipped and fell.

police lights

Investigation underway after body found during welfare check in Plato

The identity of the deceased has not yet been revealed.

Mayor Brad Wiersum

'Please, please, please get vaccinated,' Minnetonka mayor pleads

This comes as the local state of emergency officially ends.

YouTube - Jeopardy screengrab minneapolis

Can you answer all the Minneapolis questions from this week's 'Jeopardy?'

KARE personalities including Randy Shaver and Rena Sarigianopoulos presented the clues.

Pexels - woman shop mask covid CROP

35 counties, including most of Twin Cities, now COVID hotspots

The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public, indoor places in these counties.

covid, coronavirus

CDC document: Delta variant as contagious as chickenpox

Vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness from the delta variant, however.