Environment
9:11 am
Sun November 4, 2012

Train Derailment: Hydrogen Fluoride Cars Stabilized

Update 6 p.m.: The two train cars containing hydrogen fluoride have been stabilized, and the shelter-in-place for the surrounding area is no longer in effect. The evacuations that were in effect for those within 1.2 miles of the site has also been lifted, and there are no longer any restrictions on air and water traffic.

Dixie Highway will remain close until further notice.

MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says there were no complications today when stabilizing the hydrogen fluoride cars.

Over the next several days, crews will continue cleaning the derailment site. The rails still need to be repaired, and all of the chemicals still in the cars need to be off-loaded from the tanks.

A fire that was previously burning in a car full of the chemical butadiene burned out early this morning.

Earlier: Emergency management officials plan to spend today stabilizing two train cars carrying dangerous chemicals that were involved in last week's train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County. The two cars contain hydrogen fluoride, which is a corrosive gas.

Click here to learn more about hydrogen fluoride.

MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says a Shelter-in-Place warning will be sent out over the city's Code Red emergency warning system at 9:30, and will go into effect at 10:00 this morning. It's expected to take at least 9 hours to stabilize the two cars.

Here are instructions from MetroSafe on how to Shelter-in-Place in your home or car:

—at home

If you are told to "shelter-in-place," act quickly. Follow the instructions of local authorities. In general:

  1. Bring children and pets indoors immediately. If your children are at school, do not try to bring them home unless told to. The school will shelter them.
  2. Close and lock all outside doors and windows. Locking may provide a tighter seal.
  3. If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
  4. Turn off the heating, ventilation or air conditioning system. Turn off all fans, including bathroom fans operated by the light switch.
  5. Close the fireplace or woodstove damper.
  6. Get your disaster supplies kit and make sure the radio is working.
  7. Take everyone, including pets, into an interior room * with no or few windows and shut the door. *an interior room The room should have ten square feet of floor space per person in order to provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide buildup for five hours. In this room, you should store scissors, plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit over any windows or vents and rolls of duct tape to secure the plastic. Access to a water supply is desirable, as is a working hard-wired telephone. Don't rely on cell phones because cellular telephone circuits may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency. Also, a power failure will render most cordless phones inoperable.
  8. If you have pets, prepare a place for them to relieve themselves where you are taking shelter. Pets should not go outside during a chemical or radiation emergency because it is harmful to them and they may track contaminants into your shelter. The Humane Society of the United States suggests that you have plenty of plastic bags and newspapers, as well as containers and cleaning supplies, to help deal with pet waste.
  9. If you are instructed to seal the room, use duct tape and plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, to seal all cracks around the door into the room. Tape plastic over any windows. Tape over any vents and seal electrical outlets and other openings. As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
  10. Call your emergency contact and keep the phone handy in case you need to report a life-threatening condition. Otherwise stay off the phone, so that the lines will be available for use by emergency responders.
  11. Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Do not evacuate unless instructed to do so.
  12. When you are told that the emergency is over, open windows and doors, turn on ventilation systems and go outside until the building's air has been exchanged with the now clean outdoor air. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical or radiological contaminants outdoors.

—in your vehicle

  1. If you are very close to home, your workplace or a public building, go there immediately and go inside. Follow the "shelter-in-place" recommendations for that location.
  2. If you are unable to get indoors quickly and safely, then pull over to the side of the road. Stop your vehicle in the safest place possible. If it is sunny outside, it is preferable to stop under a bridge or in a shady spot to avoid being overheated.
  3. Turn off the engine.
  4. Close windows and vents.
  5. If possible, seal the heating, ventilating and air conditioning vents with duct tape or anything else you may have available.
  6. Listen to the radio periodically for updated advice and instructions. (Modern car radios consume very little battery power and should not affect your ability to start your car later.)
  7. Stay where you are until you are told it is safe to get back on the road. Be aware that some roads may be closed or traffic detoured. Follow the directions of law enforcement officials.