May 1, 2016
Freight Train Derails Near Washington, D.C., Leaking 'Hazardous Material' [Breaking]

A freight train derailed near Washington, D.C., causing "hazardous material" to leak into the surrounding area. The incident took place at approximately 6:40 a.m. near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station in the outskirts of D.C. As the train cars piled up alongside the track, emergency responders noted that approximately eleven of the cars had derailed during the accident and that as many as three of them were leaking the hazardous material that was later identified as sodium hydroxide, commonly referred to as lye.

NBC reports that a train was leaking a hazardous material after derailing in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The CSX train was carrying sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, when the accident took place. Following the accident, the chemical began leaking into the nearby area. In addition to the hazardous material problem, it was also reported that an underground gas line was ruptured by the crash.

The DC Fire and EMS tweeted about the accident, telling area residents that the crash was a "hazmat situation" and to avoid the area. After assessing the situation, DC Fire updated residents noting that no evacuations were in place and that only one train car was still leaking the sodium hydroxide.When speaking to the media, Doug Buchanan, a spokesman for the D.C fire department, says that the emergency response team quickly took control of the situation and that the area was "pretty well contained." He noted that there were no evacuation plans or calls for individuals to shelter in place, instead residents were just told to avoid the area as crews worked to cleanup the situation.

Sodium hydroxide, or lye, is known for causing irritations and burns if exposed to skin and can be hazardous if inhaled. It may also generate substantial heat when dissolved in water, which may be sufficient to ignite combustible materials. Therefore, crews turned off the gas to the affected area as the leak was repaired beneath and were working to secure the sodium hydroxide via a hazmat team.

As cleanup continues, the Rhode Island Ave, NE, is slated to be closed between 10th and 4th for an unspecified period of time.

Currently, no injuries have been reported from the accident. However, one nearby resident recalled seeing the train derail after just moving into his apartment the night before. Chris Nellum says he was "jarred" when he heard the train crash outside and saw the train cars piling up.
"I thought it was like a semi-truck coming toward the building, and when I looked out the window, I saw cars piling up. So I'm not even used to hearing trains. It was jarring."
He notes that his girlfriend, an environmentalist, attempted to flee the area over concerns about the leaking hazardous material, but says she was told by authorities to stay in the building. He says the woman was eventually able to find a way out and left the area until it was determined safe.While the D.C. Fire Department said there were no shelter-in-place orders, Nellum says that the fire department was not letting people leave his building following the crash. However, after the hazardous material was identified, it appears that residents were allowed to leave the area.

[Image via Twitter/D.C. Fire and EMS]