A Union Pacific coal train derailed outside of Lawrence, Kansas. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the nearly 30 cars which detached from the engine did heavily damage the track. Further complicating matters, each of those cars carried what George Diepenbrock of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office helpfully described as a “large amount” of coal. This posed a serious problem for clean-up crews tasked with getting the trains running again. Massive piles of coal could easily hide several small fires, which could spread, and severely injure anyone who dug into them.
That’s where infrared cameras came into play. You might remember infrared cameras as those handy little devices that help us see images of the black hole that looks like a PokéStop, or prove that there is literal water on the actual moon (how cool is that?!). Turns out they also have a lot of uses here on Earth.
In the video linked below, you can see how the Kansas City Police Department was able to use the infrared cameras attached to a drone to scan the entire length of the wreck all at once, saving time and possibly lives. It’s nice to hear a positive story about police and infrared cameras, since their use in surveillance has been ruled unconstitutional since 2001.
If you’re on Twitter, you may have noticed some people attempting to portray this event as part of a larger conspiracy of manufactured disasters in order to…do something nefarious, surely. We don’t often suggest reading the comments, but, this thread is a ride.
Robynn Tysver, a representative with Union Pacific, has assured everyone the coal has already been recovered and the track re-opened. Derailments happen, and luckily this one didn’t hurt anyone or start any fires. Mike Jaixen, senior manager of communications for the company, has also confirmed that an investigation is underway and results will be released as soon as they come to light.