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Aerial view of the derailment that caused the 1992 benzene spill. At bottom is the Nemadji River with a tanker car in it. (1992 file / News Tribune)

20 years later, benzene spill still stings in Duluth-Superior memories

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Former Duluth Police Chief Scott Lyons was six months into his job when the "high point" of his career played out in a matter of 15 hours on June 30, 1992.

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Somehow, officials in Superior and Duluth scrambled to evacuate more than 30,000 people after an early morning train derailment left the area under a vapor cloud 20 miles long and 5 miles wide. It was the Twin Ports' infamous benzene scare that took place 20 years ago today.

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