Train leaks flammable gas after derailment

Published On: Feb 11 2014 06:43:06 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 12 2014 03:24:17 AM EST

A train derailed just under the Acosta Bridge before daybreak, and crews were cleaning up the mess all day.


A Norfolk Southern rail car derailed under the Acosta overpass early Tuesday morning.

Norfolk Southern said six rail cars containing ethanol derailed. One overturned. Each rail car was carrying 30,000 gallons of ethanol, but very little of the flammable product spilled.   

"The leak from a damaged flange is no more than single digits, as in 2 to 3 gallons of product. None seeped into the waterway," said Tom Francis, spokesman for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

IMAGES: Train derailment by Acosta Bridge

The ethanol did not leak into the St. Johns River. For more information about ethanol, click here.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and JFRD set up a containment area.

"Arriving at the scene, our Hazmat team and assorted firefighters were able to mitigate the extent that the leak from a damage flange is no more than single digits. I repeat, single digits as in two to three gallons of product, none of which was able to seep into the waterway," said Francis.

The Florida Times-Union building was evacuated as a precautionary measure. Acosta walkways are closed while crews clean up and investigate what happened.

"We are waiting the decision process of CSX as to how they are going to proceed to, of course, right the rail car, remove the product whatever it is they are going to do," said Francis.

"We are transloading the contents of the overturned ethanol tank car into trucks. We will finish that this afternoon," Norfolk Southern said in a statement. "We are bringing in special equipment to re-rail the rail cars. Once all the cars are off the tracks, Norfolk Southern will make necessary track repairs. We anticipate reopening the rail line later this evening."

Tuesday evening, officials said the rail car was upright and rail workers would be back in the morning to finish repairs to the rail car that derailed and tipped on its side. The track will remain closed through the night.

"The actual walkway over the Acosta is completely closed, so a lot of runners that are being directed in different direction," JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said. "However, they are discussing closing the Acosta Bridge, at this time it is open, but as soon as that decision is made and if we do decide to close it as to take cautionary measurements with the train, we will advise the media right away."

The Acosta Bridge was not closed, but JSO said it may close the bridge if needed. Just before 9 a.m., the remainder of the train that had not derailed was moved, opening up blocked roads in San Marco that were restricting traffic to Baptist Medical Center.

"Officers are assisting the situation right now with people trying to go places in the next 30 minutes to an hour. If everyone can just be patient and be calm, we can get you to where you need to be," Bujeda said.

No one was injured.

"We are expecting this to take all day, so we will be out here with JFRD," Bujeda said.


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