Live Blog: No injuries reported in Abbeville train derailment, some residents still evacuated

Abbeville train department
A distant picture of the train derailment in Abbeville. (WRDW-TV / March 8, 2012)
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 p.m.
The cause of the accident has still not been released.

The residents of Redd Street, McBride Street and Shop Hill Street are asked not to go home, as it still could be dangerous. Everyone else in the area is allowed to go back home.

3:05 p.m.
News 12 just received word members of the media will able to get near the scene of the derailment. A news conference is scheduled for the Abbeville County offices at 4 p.m.

11:56 a.m.
News 12's Carter Coyle said most people have been sent home from the shelter. Those remaining are the ones who live on Redd, McBride and Shop Hill streets, which are still evacuated at this time.

11:05 a.m.
Abbeville Assistant City Manager David McCuen says there is currently no risk to health in the air or the ground.

McCuen said although two first responders were sent to be checked out, they are said to be OK. There are no reports of any injuries at this time.

He said one tanker is leaking propanediol, which is a derivative of soy beans and is said to be non-hazardous. It is used as ingredient in antifreeze in ATVs, laundry and cleaning products. This has been contained at the scene.

Tankers located toward the rear of the train are disconnected. Their concern is with the several tanker cars filled with methanol lying on their sides, which are hazardous and flammable. Crews are on standby, just in case.

The residents of Redd, McBride and Shop Hill streets are still evacuated at this time. Everyone else is allowed to go home.

DHEC says no significant environmental impact is expected from the train derailment in Abbeville.

The Red Cross is there helping displaced residents by providing food and water.

Initial reports:
ABBEVILLE, S.C. -- A train derailment early Thursday morning in Abbeville is now the site of a massive cleanup operation as more than two dozen cars are off the tracks, a chemical is leaking and nearby homes are under evacuation.

News 12 has confirmed two first responders were taken to the hospital. We're told this was a precaution as they reported feeling a burning sensation in their eyes as well as feeling light-headed when they first arrived on the scene.

The CSX train derailed around 4:40 a.m. between Redd and Long Branch streets. A total of 28 cars and tankers derailed, starting around car 40. There were a total of 93 cars on the train. Some were carrying ethanol, but those have not derailed.

Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division told News 12 the chemical leaking from one tanker is believed to be propanediol. This is a non-hazardous material mainly used as a building block in the production of polymers and can be added to industrial products. It is also a solvent used in antifreeze and wood paint.

Becker also tells us methanol, which is hazardous, is on one car that derailed; that car is not leaking at this time. Ethanol, a highly flammable chemical, was in six cars but those cars are in tact and not posing a threat.

A mandatory evacuation order was lifted around 8:30 a.m. People within a half mile of the site were ordered to evacuate at first. Now, anyone still at home is being asked to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioning. A temporary shelter has also been set up at the Abbeville Civic Recreation Center and about 30 people are there now.

The Abbeville EMA director said the train was traveling from Atlanta to to North Carolina. That's not far from an industrial park. Crews have set up a command center on the 100 block of North Main Street, about a mile away from the accident scene.

Of the 93 cars, as many as 10 overturned, according to CSX Spokesman Gary Sease. Contractors he says are on the scene to assess all of the derailed cars to determine if they are to be re-railed, or drained of liquid and transported, or just transported from the scene.

Mason Spear, fire chief of Abbeville, says hazmat crews were able to get closer to the scene around 7:30 a.m.

So far, no serious injuries have been reported.

Zoomed out view of Abbeville (From Google Maps)

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Where accident took place in Abbeville (From Google Maps)

Zoomed out map

Where accident took place in Abbeville (From Google Maps)

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Road blocked near train derailment