At 2:21 a.m., the last three cars on a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway train derailed on the east end of the Havre switching yard, just west of the viaduct.
The train, hauling general merchandise from Dilworth, Minn., to Pasco, Wash., was making a routine switching movement at less than 5 mph when the accident occurred, according to BNSF Director of Public Affairs Gus Melonas.
Melonas said the cause of the derailment is still being investigated.
The accident resulted in one petroleum tank car going off rails but remaining upright, and two other cars falling on their sides.
One of the fallen cars was another petroleum car that spilled an estimated 1,000 of its 28,000 gallons of petroleum crude oil.
The other was full of wheat and lost 20 tons of the grain when it toppled.
The on-site emergency response team was able to build a containment pool with a hazardous material protective liner to prevent oil from seeping into the ground, Melonas said.
The spilled oil will be moved by oil tank trucks to a holding tank here in Havre by this afternoon.
The spilled wheat is also being removed by trucks.
According to Melonas, the spills have had no impact on BNSF employees, the environment or the general public.
Thirty-five BNSF employees have worked through the night to get the mess cleaned up, and have still maintained routine switching operations on other parts of the yard.
The cars and the tracks damaged should all be fixed and operating as usual by this afternoon, Melonas said.