Train derails in Lousiana

Union Pacific train was carrying toxic substances

August 5, 2013



"Anytime you have chemicals leaking into the environment, thatís a serious issue"

—Bobby Jindal


A train carrying hazardous materials derailed in Louisiana, and two railcars were leaking chemicals, forcing the evacuation of about 100 homes, officials said.

The Union Pacific train derailed around 3:30 Sunday near Lawtell, La. Ėa town about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge- while on a nearly 120 mile trip from Lake Charles to Livonia. More than half of the 23 cars that derailed contained “regulated products,” that can be toxic.

Company spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said one of the railcars was leaking sodium hydroxide, which can cause injuries or even death if it is inhaled or touches the skin. Another was leaking lube oil.

Yet two others were carrying vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and flammable chemical. Though neither car was leaking, one had “serious damage to its outer jacket”.

Espinoza told The Associated Press that the company does not know what caused the accident and that the track was inspected about three hours before the train derailed. “We’re bringing in equipment to make sure we move all of this in the safest manner.”

Workers on site contained the substances and built dames and dikes around the cars that had leaks, according to a statement from Governor Bobby Jindal’s office. The governor flew into St. Landry Parish on Sunday night, KATC-TV reported.

Yet two others were carrying vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and flammable chemical. Though neither car was leaking, one had “serious damage to its outer jacket”, according to Jindal.

“Anytime you have chemicals leaking into the environment, that’s a serious issue.” Jindal said. “Nobody knows the extent of the damage. We’ll get that in the next 24 hours.

Master Trooper Daniel “Scott” Moreau said the leaks were contained and the amounts were so small air pollution detectors had not picked up anything, but home within about one mile of the derailment were evacuated as a precaution. “We have the hazmat team from Union pacific, and state police hazmat are on location right now, assessing the damage, “ he said.

There were two people on the train, an engineer and a conductor. They were not hurt.


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