Derailed Louisiana Train Spewed Hazardous Materials

About 100 homes remain evacuated as crews work to clean up the site where a train derailed in Louisiana and began leaking hazardous and highly flammable materials on Sunday.

The Union Pacific train derailed around 3:30 p.m. Sunday near Lawtell, La. – a 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. One car was leaking lubricant oil, while another was leaking a highly corrosive substance known as caustic soda, which can cause chemical burns to the skin or lead to permanent blindness if it touches a person’s eyes.

Workers on site contained the substances and built dams and dikes around the cars that had leaks, according to a statement from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.

Jindal said in the statement that there have been no reported injuries or fatalities and that there has not been any cause for concern of air pollution.

“We will remain on the ground and provide resources until this site is safe,” Jindal said in the statement. “We will hold those responsible for the event accountable and ensure they make it right for the people in this area.”

Raquel Espinoza, a spokeswoman for Union Pacific, 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,” Espinoza told the AP.

Local authorities closed a portion of Highway 190 near the site, but said the derailment is not expected to disrupt any rail service. Police also evacuated 101 homes within one mile of the derailment as a precaution. … more