Local News
9:08 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Train Derailment: Crews May Address Hydrogen Fluoride Cars Saturday

Update 9:45 p.m. Crews may attempt to stabilize and level two cars containing the dangerous gas hydrogen fluoride on Saturday afternoon -- work that would require another shelter-in-place warning for a five-mile radius of the train derailment site near Dixie Highway and Katherine Station Road, said Doug Hamilton, executive director of Louisville-Jefferson County EMA/MetroSafe.

On Friday night, crews were still moving cars at the derailment site to make way to the cars containing hydrogen fluoride, Hamilton said. They intended to work until midnight. 

(Read five things to know about hydrogen fluoride.)

If the work moving cars Friday goes as planned -- and if the weather is favorable -- crews will likely begin work on the hydrogen fluoride cars sometime Saturday afternoon, Hamilton said.

Each hydrogen fluoride car may need four hours apiece to stabilize and level, meaning the shelter-in-place could last eight hours, Hamilton said. But, he added, the work could go faster.

A tanker that contained the flammable chemical butadiene was still in a controlled burn on Friday night, Hamilton said.

Update 3:15 p.m.: The Ohio River has been opened up to barge traffic near the site of Monday's train derailment, but MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says traffic won't be allowed to loiter.

A crane is working on moving a car full of plastic pellets; once that's finished, work will begin on moving a car full of styrene monomer. Once those two cars are moved, they'll evaluate whether they can safely move two cars containing the dangerous gas hydrogen fluoride.

Update 11:00 a.m.: The fire continues to burn in the butadiene car at the train derailment site, but crews have stopped actively fighting it. MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says the fire is under control, and the excess water from all the firefighting is being pumped away from the site and contained, because environmental regulators are worried the water could be contaminated.

Three workers went to the hospital with burns from the fire; one has since been released.

Officials are most concerned about the two tanks full of hydrogen fluoride, an extremely dangerous corrosive gas. But they can't get to those tanks yet, because they're under other train cars. So today, the focus will be on removing the other train cars to reach the hydrogen fluoride. There's a crane on site for this purpose.

Duncan says when they do reach the hydrogen fluoride, the weather will dictate whether another shelter-in-place will be issued for the surrounding areas. If the wind is blowing away from all residential areas, it may not be necessary.

Update 10:15 a.m.: On its first day, more than 100 people affected by the train derailment received money through a compensation center set up by P&L Railway, said a spokeswoman for the company.

The compensation will remain open indefinitely from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at VFW Post 1181, 6518 Blevins Gap Road, said Bonnie Hackbarth, the company spokeswoman.

Here's a news release from Wednesday regarding the compensation center:

The P&L Railway Outreach Center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and is located at VFW Post 1181, located at 6518 Blevins Gap Road. The center is set up to make reimbursements as a result of the derailment and fire for the following:

• Expenses incurred for food and lodging by residents evacuated from their homes

• Lost wages of displaced workers

• Lost sales for businesses located within the evacuated area

• Additional commuting expenses incurred as a result of the road closure

Claimants are asked to bring in photo ID, proof of residence (such as a utility bill), receipts, and as necessary, a letter from their employer on company letterhead confirming employment.

Evacuated residents also are eligible for an “inconvenience payment” of $100 per adult and $50 per child per day, in addition to documented expenses.

For more information, call (731) 225-6808.

Update 9 a.m.: The tanker at the train derailment site in southwestern Jefferson County continues to burn Friday morning, said Buddy Rogers, a spokesman for the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency.

On Thursday, officials said they intended to let the fire burn off its fuel, the flammable chemical butadiene. An evacuation for a 1.2 mile radius of the derailment -- near Dixie Highway and Katherine Station Road, near West Point, Ky. -- continues, but a five-mile radius shelter-in-place order was lifted.

(To read Thursday's coverage of the train derailment, go here.)