Train Derailment

a train wreck on the tracks

Train derailments can result in chemical spills and releases. These incidents can vary considerably in significance. The chances of a train derailment with a hazardous chemical or bio substance release is the same as the odds of your child growing up to play in the NFL. However, despite the limited number of incidents that occur each year, the danger is significant. Train rail cars go through towns daily carrying everything from explosives to class-nine miscellaneous chemicals. If it is possible for the appropriate governmental or corporate agency involved to clean up the spill or stop the release safely, then this is the first option.

If a chemical or hazardous material release occurs near you:

  • Try to remain calm and DO NOT ENTER AN AREA THAT MAY BE DANGEROUS. Leave the area, if at all possible.
  • Once you are clear of the hazardous material incident area call 911.
  • If the incident is a traffic accident involving a semi-tanker truck or train derailment involving tanker cars, look for chemical identification placards on the tanks. First observe the scene for obvious leaks and or gas vapor clouds. DO NOT APPROACH THE SCENE if either are present and stay upwind. Call 911 and relay your observations to the dispatcher. Provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible including placard information.
  • If you become aware of a potential hazardous material incident near your location-listen to local radio or television stations for further information. Follow all instructions.
  • Stay away from the incident site to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • If caught outside-stay upstream, uphill or upwind. Try to go ½ mile (10 city blocks) from the danger area.
  • Make a record of your personal property.
  • If you are in a car-close windows and shut off ventilation.
  • Evacuate if told to do so.
  • If local officials say there is time, close all windows, shut vents, and turn off attic fans and other ventilation systems to minimize contamination.
  • To reduce the possibility of toxic vapors entering your home, seal all entry routes as efficiently as possible.
  • If an explosion is imminent-close drapes, curtains and shades.
  • If you suspect gas or vapor contamination-take shallow breaths through a cloth or towel.
  • Avoid contact with any spilled liquid materials, airborne mist or condensed solid chemical materials.
  • Do not eat or drink any food or water that may have been contaminated.

What to do after a HAZMAT incident…

The following are guidelines for dealing with the aftermath of a Hazardous Material release incident.

  1. Seek medical help for unusual symptoms.

  2. If medical help is not immediately available and you suspect contamination-remove all clothing and shower thoroughly.

  3. Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers without allowing them to contact other material: get directions for proper disposal.

  4. Advise others of your possible contamination.

  5. Get direction from local authorities on how to clean up your land and property.

  6. Return home only when directed to do so.

  7. Upon returning home, ventilate the house.

  8. Report lingering vapors or other hazards.