Train derails in Beloit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hazardous materials on board



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BELOIT &045; A freight train derailed Sunday afternoon leaving 17 cars off the tracks. The force from the crash pushed several cars within feet of Highway 22, near County Road 9, forcing public safety officials to close the highway and ponder evacuating residents.

Pam Cook, director of the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency, was on site coordinating with representatives from M&B Railroad. Company officials began assessing the situation within minutes of the incident. The cars were loaded with a variety of products, including vinyl chloride.

According to the Emergency Response Guidebook, vinyl chloride is a gas that is &8220;extremely flammable&8221; and unstable. The gas could be &8220;easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames.&8221; Temperatures Sunday evening were reading between 94 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies and Alabama State Troopers blocked traffic several hundred yards from the site. By 6 p.m. traffic flow was returned to normal, however, law

enforcement officers said the highway may be closed at times over the next several days in order to clear the tracks.

An inspector with M&B at the scene, who asked not to be identified, said the train was not supposed to exceed 10 miles per hour. Don Vincent, M&B senior operations manager, said he was en route from Meridian, Miss., late Sunday evening to assess the situation.

The Potter’s Station Volunteer Fire Department, the Selma Fire Department, and the Dallas County Hazardous Materials/WMD Response unit responded to the disaster site.

Jesse Swanson of The Selma Times-Journal contributed to this report.