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  Latest News  
  January 10, 2005
This file updated 4:00 p.m.
 

TRANSPORTATION

  Another Train Wreck And Chlorine Leak
Nine dead and 5,400 evacuated in Graniteville, S.C., as chlorine leak spreads from crash site
 

MARC S. REISCH
   
 
  For the second time in seven months, a train wreck and subsequent chlorine spill have resulted in multiple deaths and a toxic gas cloud that forced evacuations of nearby residents.

Early in the morning of Jan. 6, a 42-car Norfolk Southern freight train carrying three chlorine tank cars struck a parked train at Avondale Mills, a denim textile plant in Graniteville, S.C. In the wreck that followed, 16 cars were derailed. One chlorine tank car suffered a gash in its side and began to leak. The two other tank cars were damaged, one of them badly, a Norfolk Southern spokesman says.

Nine people died in the accident, eight from inhaling chlorine gas, and the train engineer died from wounds sustained in the crash. Of the eight chlorine victims, six were working in the mill, one was found in a vehicle, and another was in a nearby home. Nearly 240 people were sickened by gas fumes and treated at the hospital in the small textile town. Forty-five people with acute respiratory ailments were kept at the hospital.

As of midday on Monday, Jan. 10, workers had applied a temporary patch to the leaking tank car and were removing the contents. Following the accident, gas blanketed the ground, and authorities evacuated 5,400 people within a mile of the accident. They have not been allowed to return to their homes yet.

In a similar incident on June 28, 2004, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains collided in a rural area outside of San Antonio (C&EN, July 5, 2004, page 5). Forty cars were derailed, including one chlorine car, and three people died: the engineer and two people living in a home nearby who were exposed to the chlorine gas. Another 50 people were hospitalized because of exposure to the gas.

In June, the National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation of the San Antonio derailment would take a year to complete. At the time, the chlorine tank-car maker, as well as the engineers and transport workers unions, were involved in the investigation. The board has sent an investigator to look into the Graniteville accident.
 
     
  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2004
 


Related Story
Train Derails, Chlorine Leaked
[C&EN, July 5, 2004]  
 
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