CSX Train Derailment in Baltimore, Maryland Involved Hazardous Chemicals

A CSX freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed and exploded Tuesday night just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  

The train derailment and explosion damaged nearby buildings, and the blast was heard and felt for miles around, sending up a small mushroom cloud of smoke. The resulting fire burned for about 10 hours.

The train was headed from Selkirk, New York, to Waycross, Georgia when it appears to have struck a garbage truck at a private crossing marked only with a stop sign. The driver of the truck, John J. Alban, Jr., is the only reported injury. He was listed in serious but stable condition.

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The two man crew of the train, the conductor and engineer, were not injured, according to a CSX press release.

The 45-car train derailed shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday in Rosedale, Maryland. About a dozen cars went off the tracks in what is the third major derailment this month alone. One of the cars was loaded with sodium chlorate, listed as a hazardous material, and a chemical fire started following the crash, raising concerns about health risks for area residents. However, officials have said there was no public threat from the chemicals.

Four of the rail cars also contained terephthalic acid, which is used to make plastics and polyester. While it is not listed as a hazardous material, CSX officials say that is the substance that caused the explosion.

While Baltimore County police warned residents to avoid excessive smoke inhalation, there were no evacuations ordered as a result of the crash, and officials report no risk of inhalation of toxic fumes. However, about 70 residents were asked to voluntarily leave their homes just west of the crash site.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has dispatched a team to investigate the accident. CSX has created a community outreach center near the accident for any residents displaced by the explosion. The blast damaged several nearby structures.

Since a 2007 train accident at Camden Yards, CSX has had an agreement with Maryland to provide the state with real-time data on hazardous chemical shipments through the state that could be a toxic inhalation risk. The chemicals onboard the derailed train did not qualify as toxic inhalation hazards, officials report.

Photo Courtesy of Mike PowellCC BY 2.0


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