Residents were evacuated and barge traffic on the Salt River was suspended after a chemical spill from a derailment in Louisville, Ky., Monday, officials said.
Officials said they were concerned one of the cars that derailed was carrying the chemical butadiene, a liquid that turns into a gas that can be dangerous if inhaled, WHAS-TV, Louisville, Ky., reported.
"We don't know the extent of the derailment, how easy it may be for us to be able to clean it up and obviously the first thing we want to make sure is that we don't have any active leaks of any chemicals," MetroSafe Director Doug Hamilton said.
No injuries were reported.
Dispatchers confirmed the situation is a Level 3 hazmat situation, meaning a substantial quantity of hazardous materials had escaped, posing significant risk to public health and the environment, and required a major response, WHAS said.
"It is so close to the Salt and Ohio River that as a precaution we went ahead and stopped the barge traffic until we know whether or not there is a leak," Hamilton said.
The Coast Guard has been notified and is investigating whether or not any chemicals were released into the water, WDRB-TV, Louisville, said.
The number of cars that derailed or were being hauled was unclear. One media outlet said 30 cars derailed, another said 30 cars were being hauled. The (Louisville) Courier-Journal said eight cars derailed and 20 cars were being hauled.
About 20 homes were evacuated and several schools were closed as a precaution, WDRB, Louisville, reported. Other nearby residents were told to remain indoors until the situation is resolved.
MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan said residents who were asked to remain indoors should "close all their windows and doors, and if they do have some emergency preparedness items they can tape their windows if they have a draft," as well as shut off their central heating and air conditioning systems.
WDRB said the train is owned by P&L Railroad. Besides butadiene it was carrying hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and other hazardous substances.
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