A train derailed in Louisiana on Sunday while carrying a load of toxic materials. The incident caused the evacuation of about 100 homes in the area while officials made sure the area was secure.
More than 20 cars of the Union Pacific cargo train derailed around 3:30 pm near Lawtell, about 60 miles away from Baton Rouge. One of the railcars was leaking sodium hydroxide, which can cause injuries and death if it touches the skin or is inhaled.
Another car was leaking lube oil. But despite the danger, The Washington Post reports that Master Trooper Daniel “Scott” Moreau assured the leaks were contained and the amounts were very small.
He added that hazmat teams from Union Pacific and the state police were assessing the damage. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also flew into St. Landry Parish on Sunday night to assess the situation.
Company spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza explained that another car damaged in the derailment was carrying vinyl chloride, a highly flammable compound, notes The Huffington Post. Thankfully, that car wasn’t leaking.
There were only two people on the train at the time of the accident, an engineer and a conductor. While neither person was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, a man near the derailment went to the hospital for a burning sensation in his eyes.
The track where the derailment happened runs parallel to US Highway 190. State police expect it to be closed for at least two days while the train cars are cleaned up.
It is unclear what caused the train to derail at this point, though investigators will look for an answer in the coming days. That stretch of track saw its railroad ties renewed in 2011. It was inspected just three hours before the accident happened.
Officials do not yet know how long the evacuation will last, but have set up a theater in St. Landry Parish with cots for people to sleep in. The Delta Grand Theater had about 30 residents staying there as of Sunday evening. However, some were trying to find relatives or friends to stay with until they are given the all clear.
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