Hazardous Oil Rail Spill Forces Evacuation Of Thousands In Tennessee

Hazardous Oil Rail Spill Forces Evacuation Of Thousands In Tennessee
BNSF freight lead engine pulling west over the Tehachapis Chuck Abbe / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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Over 5,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in Tennessee after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed and caught fire midnight on Wednesday. Authorities declared the fire contained on Thursday morning.


A report by the Associated Press says the CSX train car was headed to Waycross, Georgia from Cincinnati, Ohio. It was carrying acrylonitrile, a substance used in a variety of industrial processes. NBC News, quoting Marian O’Briant, Blount County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, states 10 officers were hospitalized after breathing in fumes from “highly flammable and toxic gas.” Some of the effects of breathing in acrylonitrile include rapid heartbeat, headaches, irritability and dizziness.

Josh West, hospital spokesman at Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, said around 52 individuals were treated at the hospital while 25 were admitted due to respiratory issues, skin irritation and nausea. None had life-threatening injuries, West added.

The fire department said the evacuation order could last up to 48 hours. It is placed over a two-mile radius from the derailment near Maryville.

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JULY 2, 2015 @ 0250. CSX train derailment at Mt. Tabor at Old Mt. Tabor. At least one car containing a highly flammable…

Posted by Blount County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, July 2, 2015

Evacuees will be placed in hotels and will receive cards for food and essentials. “We’re doing our very best to get you back to your homes as soon as possible,” Greg McClain, Maryville City Manager, said.

Washington Post reports Denso Manufacturing, a manufacturing plant near the derailment site, closed down Thursday morning.

Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell advised residents in the affected derailment site not to drink from the well water for now. For the meantime, they will be provided bottled water by CSX at a local middle school.

Craig Camuso, CSX regional vice president for state government affairs, said the train had 57 cars and two locomotives. Of that, 27 cars were filled with hazardous chemicals, including nine with acrylonitrile, 16 with propane and two with asphalt.