CSX Train Chemical Spill Results in Evacuation Around Willard, Ohio

A CSX train has derailed in Willard, Ohio, causing a chemical spill that resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the area early this morning due to a risk of potential respiratory damage.  

The train accident occurred at about 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Willard rail yard. City officials report that a rail car containing styrene monomer, a highly flammable chemical, was ruptured and that the liquid poured out of the breach.

Styrene monomer is a chemical used in plastic and rubber manufacturing. It is highly flammable and exposure can cause respiratory damage. Reports indicate that all 30,000 gallons contained in the car have spilled onto the rail yard.

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Authorities have evacuated about 400 households within a half mile of the scene of the accident to ensure the safety of residents. Police, firefighters and CSX officials were on the scene as of Wednesday morning, cleaning up the spill and investigating the cause of the derailment.

CSX issued a brief statement Wednesday morning regarding the derailment that reads:

“CSX Transportation is working with first responders in Willard, Ohio, to assist residents who have evacuated their homes due to a tank car leak. The company is establishing a community outreach center at the Willard Town Hall, and securing hotel rooms for displaced residents. The leak from the tank car of styrene monomer, a flammable product used in the manufacture of plastics, has been stopped. The tank car was damaged in a derailment at the CSX Willard Yard. CSX thanks the first responders for their support, and pledges to work with them and the community to resolve this incident as safely and quickly as possible.”

The derailment comes about six months after a CSX freight train derailed carrying hazardous chemicals just outside of Baltimore, Maryland in late May. That derailment led to an explosion that damaged nearby buildings and injured the driver. The explosion, heard for miles around and resulting in a small mushroom cloud, was caused by terephthalic acid, a chemical used to make plastics and polymers.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Powell / CC BY 2.0

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