Train derails in Castleberry

Published 2:09 am Thursday, May 31, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
What began as a quiet morning in Castleberry turned into an afternoon of evacuations and hazardous materials crews converging on the town.
After a train derailment occurred just after 11 a.m. near downtown Castleberry, phenol leaked from at least one of the cars onto the ground, according to Heather Walton, Conecuh County Emergency Management Agency director.
"From our initial evaluations, only one of the three tank cars involved in the derailment is leaking at this point," Walton said. "We are taking precautions in this incident and calling for an evacuation around the accident site."
An estimated 10 cars on the train were involved in the derailment, Walton said. Three of those cars were tankers carrying phenol and acetone.
"Phenol is very combustible," Walton said. "It can also cause burning if it makes contact with skin. Vapors are also hazardous with this type of chemical."
Walton and other officials proceeded to alert those residents and businesses in the immediate area concerning the situation.
"Our policy in a case like this is to evacuate everyone within a half mile radius of the derailment site," Walton said. "That is mandatory but we are suggesting evacuation up to one mile from the site in all directions."
CSX officials had requested hazardous materials teams from Pensacola, Fla., to aid in containing and cleaning up the chemical spill.
Workers with CSX, owners of the train, and hazmat teams worked into the afternoon to clean up the spill and eliminate any risks to area residents and business owners.
Industries on U.S. 31 North were also to be evacuated.
Meg Sacks, a spokeswoman with CSX, told The Associated Press the train was traveling from Mobile to Montgomery with a total of 66 cars, with 34 cars empty. The remaining cars were carrying a variety of products including automobiles, plastic, steel, acetone and phenol.
Officials on the scene made no official cause for derailment available.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox