Drill helped with derailment

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

About four months ago, Escambia County emergency officials gathered in Flomaton for a disaster drill involving a train derailment.
Saturday night, they were back there for the real thing.
The training that area fire and police departments used during the drill may have come in handy after part of a CSX cargo train derailed just off U.S. 31 near Flomaton.
Three of the cars were loaded with anhydrous ammonia, a liquid that, when it comes in contact with water, can cause a toxic cloud that can cause respiratory problems.
None of those were leaking, but Adams said CSX and environmental officials discovered that a substance called tall oil, an organic product used in paper-making, did leak from one of the cars into a small branch of Big Escambia Creek. Environmental Protection Agency and Alabama Department of Environmental Management officials were able to clean up most of that substance, Adams said, and none of it made it to Big Escambia Creek.
Emergency officials evacuated residents from a half-mile radius around the derailment site, sending about a dozen people to a shelter at Little Escambia Baptist Church.
CSX officials later arranged for the residents to stay at the Brewton Inn.
The train went off the tracks behind an abandoned building that used to be a bait shop, said John Gleaton, chief deputy for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department.
Fire departments from Flomaton, Atmore, Brewton, Poarch, Lambuth, Friendship, Pineview, Wawbeek and Escambia County, Fla., responded to the scene, as well as the Flomaton and Atmore police departments, Escambia County Sheriff’s Department, Escambia County Rescue Squad, state troopers, county EMA and state EMA, Kelly’s Ambulance Service and the Escambia County (Fla.) sheriff’s department and EMS.

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