TRAIN Cars Hauling Chemicals through Texas Derail


Monday, August 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PINEHURST, Texas (AP) - Emergency crews worked Monday to clean up thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals that were spilled by a freight-train derailment.

About 70 families evacuated their homes after 21 cars of an 84-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed Sunday, said Cpl. Denise Janeway of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

No injuries were reported.

About 200 people from several agencies worked to clean up the wreck site about 34 miles northwest of Houston. ``It is horribly, horribly hot out there and all of these guys are having to work in full protective gear,'' Janeway said.

Most of the derailed cars had been removed by Monday morning, said Jerry Jenkins, Burlington Northern Santa Fe's regional director for public affairs. The cause of the accident hadn't been determined.

The train was en route to Houston from Teague, about 120 miles north of Houston, when the wreck happened early Sunday.

Many of the 21 cars that derailed were tankers filled with chemicals. Tankers leaked 11,000 gallons of acetic anhydride and 23,000 gallons of 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, used in making plastics, Janeway said. She said the cleanup could take days.

Both chemicals irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory system, said state Department of Public Safety Sgt. Kevin Pullen. The Environmental Protection Agency was monitoring the cleanup.

Other cars spilled meat tallow and plastic pellets.

The derailment occurred on a curve in a wooded area.

``It's not that bad of a curve,'' said Jack Corey, who owns ranch land on both sides of the crash site. ``But there's a long straightaway carrying them down there, and they get moving pretty good.''

Jenkins said he did not know the speed limit on that section of track or how fast the train was going when it derailed.

The conductor and engineer were given routine tests for alcohol and drugs. Results were expected later this week.

Ten years ago, a Burlington Northern train derailed at the same curve, said railroad vice president David Freeman. Thirty cars hurtled off the track, spilling tons of wheat Aug. 12, 1991.

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On the Net:

Texas Natural Resource Commission: http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us

Burlington Northern: http://www.bnsf.com