Derailed train leads to training for Augusta first responders

By: Ryan Houston
By: Ryan Houston

News 12 First at Five / Thursday, March 21, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The scene is clear now, but a train derailment caused some problems for a lot of drivers heading to work Thursday morning.

Four cars of a CSX train jumped the tracks and the accident blocked several intersections of traffic. No one was hurt and News 12 has learned the cars were empty.

First responders got some much-needed training.

The train was stopped and off its tracks. It was finally back on track six hours after 911 got the call.

"Do you know what the train cars that derailed were carrying? It's been reported to us that the cars that derailed were empty," said Richmond County Fire Chief Chris James.

Empty this time, but James says on a regular basis, trains come through the heart of town carrying hazardous, dangerous and even deadly chemicals.

Emergency staff members say they don't know exactly what's coming in and out of town. They just have an idea of what's on each train car.

"There are chemicals that travel through this area. Similar to the accident that happened in Graniteville," James said.

Eight years ago, a train carrying chlorine derailed in Graniteville and left a poisonous cloud of chlorine gas, killing nine people. Many more were injured, and some are still dealing with the effects.

If that had been the case, are Augusta first responders ready?

"If it was a chemical, the railroad would be responsible for the cleanup. We would start some evacuations, procedures to make sure no citizens would be in harm's way," James said.

The chief went on to say they would block traffic and continue assessing the situation. Although injuries weren't a problem this morning, they've seen what can happen when a train goes off course.

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