June 30, 1992: Benzene Spill in Superior

I got a free day at the bar (instead of work) because of the train derailment in Superior and the resulting benzene spill.

Duluth News Tribune retrospective from 2012: “20 years later, benzene spill still stings in Duluth-Superior memories


Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

DULUTH, Minn., June 30 -- EVACUATION -- Melissa Gergin of Duluth, Minn., covers her face as she prepares to evacuate Tuesday after a train derailment in Superior, Wis., sent a cloud of toxic benzene vapor towards the city. At least 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes and businesses. (AP Photo) b/w only (jwe/sms31720mbr -- Duluth News-Tribune / Steve Sterns) 1992 Slug: Train Derailment

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

The Facebook thread on this post is getting a lot of comments. For some people it was kind of an odd vacation day, for others it was a nightmare. A few select examples:
Lynda Hein Flinck: I was working downtown Duluth, living in Two Harbors. They closed the roads to TH so I headed to my parents in Saginaw. I parked at the DECC, was coughing by the time I got to my car and kept coughing for over 2 years, not fun.
Dawn Sheetz Lehtinen: I was at UMD - remember the awful smell and coughing. We left campus quickly.
Nicole Williams: My Grandmother came to get me and she took me to work with her at what was then known as Superior Memorial Hospital. Bad day, but great memories with my Grammy.
Sandy Towle-Kienbaum: The start of my nightmare. I would love to forget ... but never will.
Em Kay: Remember this well. We'd just moved here in Jan, and after a crap spring/summer start, this happened on like the first nice day. The kids and I evacuated back to the cities and went swimming at the Crystal pool with friends. Good times. 
Alexander Hains: Wow, do I remember this day! My mom's purse was stolen right before we were told we had evacuate.
Viola Rae Kassing: I was driving cab and we were taxiing people over the hill (no charge). Anyone we saw walking we gave rides to their cars. At the start of my shift I took time out to get my families out of town. At first I was teased unmercifully until the cops came around knocking on doors and advising people to get out of town.
Laura Plewa: I was sitting in UMD for summer school that day when security came in the room and asked us to leave. My now husband and I went up to Island Lake to avoid traffic jam on I-35.
Andy M.: I remember it happened just outside of Superior in the Nemadji River, but the news kept saying only Duluth was affected and the river was there ... Superior had it worse than anyone.
Scot Johnson: At the time we called it Toxic Tuesday,
Laurie O'Melia O'Neill: I remember being on a commercial film shoot for Minnesota Power with Marilyn Weber, and we were on the Cloquet River banks when we heard the news. I called my husband who was taking our daughter Molly O'Neill, who was pregnant with her first child, out of town towards the Iron Range to keep her from exposure to the gas. Yup. The good ol' days.
Peggy Graves: I remember the police knocking on doors and telling people to evacuate. I was living on Park Point at the time.
Joan Erickson: I was visiting from North Dakota, in town with my husband and baby and staying at the Chalet Motel. We were having breakfast at McDonald's on London Road when we were told that we had to evacuate. We didn't know our way around or even where the exodus on I-35 was leading us. What an introduction to Duluth!
Linda Hollinday: I was working at Minnesota Power at the time in the Security Office. Had to report to work as always. When I drove into Duluth it was so strange. Most of Duluth had evacuated.
Gretchen Boyd Petry: I was working at Jay Cooke that day. We had to evacuate the campers as well as locate hikers on the trails to get them out of the park. Standing on the bridge, we could see a light fog of the stuff creeping up the river. Hours later, I finally got home to get my young sons and dog to Hinckley for the night.
Stacie Dahl: I remember this. We all got in the car and went to Hinckley to stay with my aunt and uncle.
Leslie Jones: I worked at the Duluth Clinic. A farmer who came in to get checked out for his cough said that he was working in the barn and suddenly "bam"! Several bats fell down dead that had been up in the rafters. All at once. The benzene got 'em.
Erin Naughton-Garrison: I moved to Duluth on this day. Happy move-a-versary to me!
Kerry Jo Johnson Angela: This was the day we had a sleepover at my parents house. Kathy called for us to close the windows and we were narcoleptic and kept calling back to sleep. Not sure how or why I remember that! 
Patty Jo Radich: I Remember working on London Road and actually had to use my inhaler, couldn't breathe!
John Rathe: I remember this, still to this day I tell my kids about it. I was 13, mom said pack a bag we are going to the cabin. So off we went, with hundreds of other cars looking to get out of town.
Bob Pribnow: I even got a settlement from the railroad months later. Pretty much anybody living in this area at the time could go over to Superior and get a check and sign away any rights to sue. Can't remember how much the check was, but it didn't seem like much at the time.

Barbara Yoj

about 5 years ago

My sister died in 2006 from cancer related to this spill, I now have a niece with cancer ... they were a mile from the spill and told after the initial evacuation all was safe.

The lies by BN and all the others, including the Plaintiffs attorney were like nothing I've ever seen. To settle a class action in months doesn't happen, unless the plaintiffs' attorney(s) are paid off handsomely ... they were.

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