Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another train wreck

At least 14 tanker cars are piled up and burning at Brooks, Bullitt County, Kentucky, near Louisville. The train was operated by CSX Transportation. No other details yet, but I'll post them when I get them.

UPDATE: Airline flights have been diverted around the column of smoke from the train wreck at Brooks. Brooks is about four miles south of the Interstate 265 loop around Louisville. The wreck occurred about 9 a.m. Schools are being evacuated because of smoke from the fire.

UPDATE: Brooks is a populated place, not a city. It is just across the county line from Jefferson County, where Louisville is located.

UPDATE: The Louisville Courier-Journal is reporting that the chemical aboard some of the tankers is an inhalation hazard, but that the specific chemical is not known. This probably means the car placard is a non-specific placard. Such placards give general information about the chemical on board, but not the specific name of the chemical.

UPDATE: Brooks had a population of 2,678 in 2000. Louisville had a population of 256,231, but it has since merged with most of the Jefferson County to form Louisville Metro. The county had a population of 693,604 in 2ooo.

UPDATE: If the placard on the train cars reads "Inhalation Hazard (6)," The Emergency Response Guidebook recommends avoiding inhalation and skin contact and isolate any spills or runoff. The materials could cause serious injury or death. Responders should wear self-contained breathing apparatus, keep unauthorized persons away, stay upwind and stay out of low-lying areas. Enclosed areas should be ventilated.

It also recommends evacuation within a half-mile radius of the fire.

Since firefighters are using water on the blaze, it seems most likely that this is the type of material involved.

There is also a placard for "Inhalation Hazard (2), which is much more serious. This placard means the substance may be fatal if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Dry chemical or CO2 fire suppressants only are to be used.

UPDATE: The situation at Brooks is apparently more serious than first thought. At least one of the tank cars involved in the accident contained butadiene, a chemical used in the production of synthetic rubber. Butadiene has a guide number of 116P in the Emergency Response Guidebook, meaning it is extremely flammable, will form explosive mixtures in air and may polymerize explosively when involved in fire or heated.

Ruptured containers may turn into rockets as escaping gas explodes.

In case a railcar fire, responders should evacuate everyone within a one-mile radius of the fire.

UPDATE: The Courier-Journal puts the fire near Huber Station Road, which makes the fire about halfway between Louisville and Shepherdsville, a city of 8,334 people about eight miles South of Louisville.

UPDATE (11:48 a.m.): Emergency Management officials say the chemical burning is cyclohexane, a chemical used in the production of acids used in nylon manufacturing.

Cyclohexane, under guide number 128 in the Emergency Management Handbook, is highly flammable and has many of the same dangers as butadiene.

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