- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2001

BALTIMORE A freight train burned and leaked hazardous chemicals in a tunnel near Camden Yards stadium on today, a day after it derailed and virtually shut down the city.
Five of the train's 60 cars had been removed by this morning, fire department spokesman Hector Torres said.
Some cars in the back were carrying wood products, which could be the source of the smoke spewing from the tunnel, Mr. Torres said. Air quality tests found mostly steam and hydrocarbons, which could be from the burning wood, Torres said.
“Right now, there doesn't appear to be any toxins in the smoke, so that's a good sign,'' he said.
To add to the chaos, a water-main break caused by the derailment knocked out power to hundreds of customers and the collapse of a section of a major downtown thoroughfare, Lombard Street.
Two firefighters hospitalized for chest pains were in stable condition, Mr. Torres said. More than 100 firefighters remained at the scene.
Workers expected to reach a tank car carrying hydrochloric acid after they removed two more cars, said Robert Gould, spokesman for CSX Transportation Inc., which owns the train, tracks and tunnel.
They planned to vacuum the acid out of the car, which can hold about 13,000 gallons, and put it into another car.
That could take six to seven hours, he said today.
“This is going to be a fairly lengthy cleanup,'' said Gould, who added that the leaking hydrochloric acid was not combustible.
The tracks were damaged, but Mr. Gould did not know the extent. He said the more than two dozen trains that travel through the city each day would have to be rerouted or rescheduled.
A National Transportation Safety Board team was at the scene to investigate the cause of the derailment.
City and state employees who work downtown were allowed to take Thursday off, and Mayor Martin O'Malley encouraged private employers to do the same.
A parking lot outside Camden Yards was turned into a command post. Baltimore Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said the first game of tonight's doubleheader against the Texas Rangers has been postponed, but no decision had been made about the second game.
The delayed game was a makeup of last night's game, which was postponed following the derailment. Fans were turned away from the ballpark, and players, media and stadium employees were evacuated.
The accident happened yesterday afternoon as the train was traveling from Hamlet, N.C. to Oak Island, N.J. It was in the 1 1/2 -mile long tunnel when a sensor in the first of three locomotives detected a problem, Gould said.
The two-man crew stopped the train in the tunnel and walked back to check on the other cars. After heavy smoke turned them back, they uncoupled the locomotives and rode out of the tunnel.
The Coast Guard closed the Inner Harbor to boat traffic and state highway officials closed all major roadways into the city. Officials began reopening major roads nearly eight hours after the derailment.
No homes or businesses were evacuated, but health officials warned people in the area to stay inside, keep windows closed and turn off ventilation systems. Baltimore Gas & Electric said the water main break knocked out power to 1,200 customers.
Firefighters were not able to reach the train for eight hours, and were turned back several times by thick smoke and intense heat. They used oxygen masks and air tanks, and rode a sport utility vehicle with train wheels.
City Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said he was most concerned about the hydrochloric acid and fluorosilicic acid, two of at least six hazardous chemicals on board the train.
Both are corrosive and cause permanent lung damage if inhaled, he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide