After a sulfuric acid train derails in Australia, Queensland’s emergency response crews are scrambling to clean up the mess created by the train derailment. An exclusion zone has been set up near the Australian town of Julia Creek, but it is currently unclear how much damage to the environment may have happened since the area is so remote. In addition, it is believed that at least 44,000 gallons of sulfuric acid have been spilled, but this is only an early estimate.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, an acid attack survivor is giving beauty tips on YouTube in order to draw attention to the trials faced by women scarred by acid.
Fortunately, Australia’s acid train derailment did not kill anyone. The accident did injure three train staff members, but reports indicate that the injuries were minor in scope. The train staff members were already released from the hospital by late Sunday.
According to the Inquirer, the Sunday train derailment caused a “minor leakage of sulfuric acid and spillage of diesel fuel.”
“One locomotive and all 26 wagons are on their side following the incident,” said a spokeswoman for Queensland Rail.
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After the acid train derails, police declared the crash site an emergency zone and tried to keep everyone out of the two-kilometer wide exclusion zone.
“An emergency declaration and two kilomete exclusion zone remains in place at Julia Creek following the derailing of a freight train yesterday morning,” declared a statement by the Queensland police. “The emergency situation, declared under the Public Safety Preservation Act at 11.35am yesterday, covers a two kilometre exclusion zone around the crash site, which is located approximately 20km east of Julia Creek.”
Inspector Trevor Kidd said the authorities are still trying to assess how much damage has been done to the environment, but he stressed it was a remote environment.
“You have to take into account it’s remote, it’s impacted heavily by weather, access is quite difficult, and these are the challenges the responders are facing at the moment,” inspector Kidd told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “It is some significant distance from major waterways and any major infrastructure, so we do have something going our way as far as that goes, but it is certainly challenging to make an effective assessment at this stage.”
According to Sky News, Queensland Rail has released a statement about the cleanup process, but they say their crews have been unable to access the acid train crash site. They say the Flinder highway is currently inaccessible due to heavy flooding in the area.
“Safety is Queensland Rail’s number one priority and we are investigating the cause of the incident and will work closely with relevant authorities on the environmental response as required,” said the statement by Queensland Rail.
The Australian government has discussed the environmental effects of sulfuric acid in the past, and they note that “chronic effects on plants, birds or land animals have not been determined” although with a larger spill the acid will lower the pH value of any water bodies in the area for an “extended period of time.”
“Sulfuric acid enters the air during production, use and transporting it. In the air it will react with other chemicals present (ammonia, magnesium, calcium) to form salts, which neutralise the acid. The acid particles dissolve in clouds, fog, rain, or snow, resulting in very dilute acid solutions. This may impact the environment as wet acid deposition (‘acid rain’).”
But the fact sheets do not provide any information on a scenario where a sulfuric acid train derails. Queensland Rail has yet to comment on the long-term effects to the environment as of this publishing.
[Image via YouTube]