Residents Evacuated After Derailed Train Car Starts Leaking Deadly Acid

Workers are cleaning up an acid spill from a derailed railroad tank car, which prompted an urgent evacuation for nearby residents. Officials are extending hotel stays for residents of evacuated homes for an additional night as the chemical spill is being handled by a professional cleanup crew.

A Canadian National railroad car carrying 20,000 gallons of an acidic chemical derailed on Wednesday afternoon. Crews worked Thursday to upright the leaking car and prevent more acid from spilling. They used chemicals to neutralize the acid and haul away contaminated material.

The Parish President said evacuation orders could be in place until tomorrow afternoon, but some people are being allowed to go back to their homes to get essential items. The cleanup crews are working diligently to get everything to safe conditions.

Officials said about 200 homes were evacuated after a train derailment in Paulina in St. James Parish, about 50 miles west of New Orleans. Residents were put up in hotels or offered shelter at a senior center.

Crews have removed three of six train cars from the rail system, but officials are worried the remaining acid will spill out if they pull the car upright. No injuries were immediately reported, but the acid needs to be neutralized and removed before residents can return home.

Inhaling high levels of the corrosive chemical can cause death. The now-damaged rail car was carrying 20,000 gallons of this potentially deadly substance.

The parish president said that residents who were evacuated will be back in their homes around midday tomorrow, but that could be extended depending on the cleanup here now. He also said that the only time he’s ever seen anything like this happen in Saint James Parish was back in 1992.

The reason for the train car’s derailment has yet to be determined.

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.