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Train hits truck carrying hydrochloric acid

Issued: 2018-03-06

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CENTERVILLE (KDKA) – Thousands of gallons of hydrochloric acid spilled Tuesday morning when a train crashed into the truck that was hauling it in Washington County.

The crash happened around 11 a.m. in Centerville, near Fredericktown. The intersection of Maple Glenn Road and Low Hill Road is marked by cross bucks.

Officials say the CSX train was traveling southbound when it collided with the tanker truck, which was carrying more than 4,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid.

“Bang! We heard a big bang and the train stopped, so we knew something big was hit,” said neighbor and evacuee Mattie Mowry.

KDKA’s Christine D’Antonio Reports:

The train, en-route from Newell to a coal mine Claysville, was empty of passengers except for the crew.

An investigation into the cause of the crash remains open, but authorities say it appears the driver of the tanker truck was trying to beat the train when the collision happened.

There were 15 homes in the immediate vicinity, some are summer homes. Two were unoccupied, and no one was home at several others at the time the crash happened.

Everyone else in the area was immediately evacuated as a precaution.

“The nature of what this acid is doesn’t generate a large vapor cloud,” said Washington County Director of Public Safety Jeffrey Yates. “Plus, we’re down low, so whatever does come is being suppressed.”

The driver of the truck was hurt in the crash and transported by medical helicopter to a hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment. Two of the members of the train crew had respiratory injuries and also went to local hospitals.

None of the evacuees were hurt; however a few said they experienced some coughing and throat irritation.

“Hydrochloric acid, so the fumes, the vapors that we’re coming off of it, were pretty strong and pungent,” said neighbor Jack Mowry. “All I could see was this big plume of white vapor coming off the truck.”

Following the crash, crews spent much of the day clearing and decontaminating the scene.

“The remediation company will neutralize the rest of the acid,” Yates said. “Once the acid’s neutralized, they’ll also decontaminate the wreckage, or the tractor trailer, so they can take it out of here. They’ll decontaminate the train, so it can go. They’ll dig up any contaminated soil, rocks, rail, whatever remnants of the acid will be taken out, and then they’ll refill it.”

By 9 p.m., officials said both the wreckage of the truck and train had been removed and the scene had been cleared.

The clean-up crews are wearing protective gear.

They are still trying to determine if any of the acid got into the river.

Those evacuated were taken by school bus to the East Bethlehem Fire Department. Officials say they should be back allowed into their homes by 11 p.m.

if that truck had 44000 gallons I would like to see the tank it might be 44000 pounds get it right


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