Remember when oil pipelines were at risk of spilling and as a result the progressive movement decided it would be far safer to transport US oil by train, because supposedly trains are so much safer for the environment (not to mention profitable for Warren Buffett), only to lead to a record surge in oil-carrying train accidents and derailments? Well, not even the most hardline of environment-friendlies could have anticipated what happened overnight in Blount County, Tennessee after a freight train derailed carrying flammable and poisonous material caught on fire on Wednesday night, leading to the evacuation of as many as 5000 residents from their homes.
Unlike most crude incidents in the recent past, however, this time it was not a Buffett train. According to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, a CSX train carrying liquid petroleum, a highly flammable and toxic gas, derailed and caught on fire at Mt. Tabor Road at Old Mt. Tabor Road around midnight.
As WATE reports, hundreds of people relocated to the Foothills Mall until they are able to go home. The Red Cross also set up shelter at Heritage High School for residents. Officials told WATE 6 On Your Side a shelter will be open at 233 Curry Avenue for displaced pets.
Evacuations could last between 24 and 48 hours, according to deputies. Seven law enforcement officers from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and surrounding were treated due exposure to the fumes.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police, TEMA and emergency management are on scene.
CSX representative Lee Miller apologized to residents in a meeting at Heritage High School. He said environment and hazmat crews are on site “working diligently” to get the situation taken care of. He estimates residents will be able to come home Friday morning.
Personal hygiene items, baby wipes and food will be provided by CSX, according to Miller.
CSX is offering reimbursement for families. Lee said for residents to keep receipts and bring ID to verify address to make sure it’s within evacuation radius.
Miller did not answer questions about timeline, chemical danger or contamination radius.
Just in case there was confusion, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office warns residents south of Robert C. Jackson Drive to Friendsville refrain from drinking well water.
And now, excuse us as we flip through the historical records to see how many "toxic gas" pipeline accidents there have been in US history. It may take a while...