Some Residents Evacuated In Minn. Town Because Of Train Ammonia Leak

Saturday, March 17th 2007, 2:37 pm
By: News On 6

LAKE CITY, Minn. (AP) _ Anhydrous ammonia leaked from a railroad tank car Saturday and the fumes led authorities to evacuate more than 100 people from their homes in southern Lake City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, authorities said.

The leaking car was part of an Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad train operating on Canadian Pacific tracks, railroad officials said.

The leaking car was moved three miles south into an unpopulated area, authorities said. However, the fumes kept building and the evacuation began around 7:45 a.m. Other residents were urged to stay indoors.

U.S. Highway 61 along the Mississippi River was closed from Lake City south to Wabasha.

A cap on the tanker car apparently failed, state, city and railroad officials said in a news conference. Authorities said they had capped the leak by early Saturday afternoon.

Jafar Karim, a spokesman for the railroad in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the car belonged to a customer. The railroad would work with a contractor to provide lodging and meals to displaced people, he said.

Anhydrous ammonia can be extremely toxic and may be fatal if inhaled. The vapors are irritating and corrosive, according to the federal Emergency Response Guidebook. Symptoms of exposure include a harsh burning sensation in the nose, a bad taste or stinging in the mouth, as well as headaches, nausea and difficulty breathing.