Jacksonville Train Derailment: Ethanol Spill Causes Evacuations

A Jacksonville train derailment under the Acosta overpass near downtown resulted in an Ethanol spill Tuesday morning. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and fire and rescue teams responded to the report early in the morning. Emergency crews had evacuations in effect for much of the area, including the Florida Times-Union, although they are now allowing workers back into their buildings.

The Norfolk Southern cargo train was believed to be heading north on a Florida East Coast Railway track. The Jacksonville train derailment occurred when another engine, heading south, passed by. Officials are uncertain of how the two passing locomotives may have impacted one another. A full investigation is under way.

Carrying 200,000 gallons of ethanol, the spill could have been much worse than it actually was. Emergency and hazmat crews arrived on the scene around 5 am and were able to contain the ethanol spill to just a few gallons. Nothing leaked into the nearby waterways.

One car was overturned in the Jacksonville train derailment. As workers press to clean up the area, the engine is waiting near one of the entrances at close by Baptist Medical Center. The Acosta overpass has remained open during the entire incident for vehicle traffic. Walkways are closed however.

The situation could have been much worse, as ethanol is highly flammable and the cargo train was carrying so much. A similar incident involving a freight train in Canada back in January saw an explosive fire light up close to 16 cars. Jacksonville officials are fortunate to have avoided a similar situation.

Officials hope to have the Jacksonville train derailment cleaned up soon to allow traffic to resume as normal in the area.