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Radioactive Ore Spills in Crash of Truck, Train

August 28, 1985|Associated Press

BOWDON, N. D. — A truck hauling drums of uranium oxide collided with a freight train Tuesday, killing the driver of the truck and spilling the low-level radioactive material, authorities said.

A crewman aboard the Burlington Northern train and 30 to 40 emergency and law enforcement officers were exposed to the chemical but none was hospitalized.

No evacuations were ordered in the accident, but authorities sealed off the area, which was about three miles east of Bowdon and 70 miles northeast of Bismarck, said Doug Friez, state readiness supervisor for the North Dakota Division of Emergency Management.

The truck was hauling more than 50 drums containing powdered uranium oxide, a low-hazard, non-fissionable material that presented no danger outside 20 feet from the accident site, he said.

"There is not a concern with the general public as long as they do not go to the scene of the accident," Friez said. "There's no danger to communities or anything else."

Uranium oxide is a low-grade ore that is used as fuel in nuclear power plants after it is refined, said Terry Lindsey, a state radiological officer. It does not pose a high radiation threat but can cause respiratory problems, he said.

The driver of the truck who was killed in the crash was not identified.

The truck collided with the first of two engines hauling six empty freight cars of the train, which was traveling at 10 m.p.h. and heading to Turtle Lake from Jamestown, said Al Wiegold, a spokesman for the Burlington Northern railroad.

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