Toxic chemical spill from train derailment forces Kentucky residents to flee homes


(NEW YORK) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in Rockcastle County following a multi-car train derailment Wednesday afternoon that resulted in a spill of hazardous chemicals.

Around 16 train cars were involved in the incident, including two carrying molten sulfur that ended up on fire, according to CSX, which operates the train.

“When molten sulfur burns, it is known to release sulfur dioxide. Specialized equipment is being deployed to conduct air monitoring in the area,” CSX said in a statement Wednesday night, adding that it was working with local emergency crews.

Two cars carrying magnesium hydroxide were also involved in the incident but there was no indication that these cars were breached, according to CSX. The remaining cars were either empty or carrying non-hazardous products like grain or plastic, according to the company.

As of Thursday morning, the fire was still burning, according to CSX.

Beshear encouraged nearby residents to evacuate.

“Please stay clear of this area as state, local and CSX officials respond,” the governor said.

Some nearby residents told ABC affiliate WTVQ they were startled by the crash and rushed to safety. Evelyn Gray told the station her boyfriend came home and said they had to leave immediately.

“As soon as he opened the back door to come in the chemical hit me and I had a real bad asthma attack. I do suffer from asthma,” Gray said.

Cindy Bradley said she is scared because she doesn’t know how long until she can return home.

“This could be tonight. It could be three weeks. Who knows?” she told WTVQ.

CSX said it would provide affected residents with food, lodging and necessities throughout the day including Thanksgiving dinner at no cost.

ABC News’ Darren Reynolds and Maci Smith contributed to this report.


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