November 27, 2017 / 3:10 PM / 2 years ago

CSX train carrying harmful chemicals derails in Florida

(Reuters) - A CSX Corp freight train carrying hazardous molten sulfur derailed in central Florida on Monday, prompting authorities to tell residents to stay indoors for several hours, company officials said.

No one was hurt, Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX said in a statement.

The train was traveling to Winston, Florida, from Waycross, Georgia, when nine carriages, including four with molten sulfur, went off the track at around 2 a.m. EST in Lakeland, Florida, nearly 60 miles south of Orlando, said CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle.

CSX officials said in the statement that several of the derailed cars were reported to be leaking molten sulfur, which is used in making rubber, detergent and fertilizers.

“CSX personnel and contractors have responded to the site to assess the situation and develop a plan to remediate the scene, re-rail the affected cars and restore service,” the statement said.

Fire department officials in Polk County, Florida, had spotted several train cars rolled over and mangled after returning from a medical call, authorities said. A small fire was extinguished by firefighters.

As a precaution, emergency officials initially ordered local residents to remain in their homes with the windows closed and to shut off their air conditioners.

That order was lifted shortly before 9 a.m., but residents were advised to stay away from the derailment site as officials work to clean the spillage and remove the damaged cars.

Molten sulfur, a highly flammable chemical with a faint odor of rotten eggs, can release poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulfide, which can be lethal to those exposed to it, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. The chemical is transported at elevated temperatures, typically at 290 degrees Fahrenheit (134 degrees Celsius), to prevent solidification.

The train, comprised of three locomotives, 120 loaded railcars and 72 empty railcars, was carrying a variety of other cargo, including cardboard, oats and rocks, CSX officials said.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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