PAULINA, La. (AP) — The derailment of six train cars and a subsequent acid leak prompted road closures and evacuations Wednesday in a Louisiana community, officials said.
No injuries were reported in the derailment in the community of Paulina in St. James Parish, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of New Orleans. St. James officials told area news outlets that about 150 people were evacuated. A shelter was opened at a seniors’ center in nearby Lutcher.
Eric Deroche, St. James homeland security director, said a tank car was leaking hydrochloric acid that would have to be neutralized and removed before the evacuation order could be lifted. Inhaling fumes from the corrosive chemical can damage the lungs.
State police spokesman Christian Reed said the damaged rail car was carrying 20,000 gallons (75,700 liters) of the chemical, but that it’s too early to say exactly how much had escaped.
“We’re still in the assessment phase and trying to determine just how much is getting out,” he said.
St. James Sheriff Willy Martin said emergency officials were monitoring the wind in the area in case the evacuation zone needs to be expanded.
“We have some deputies and others on standby in case a wind shift occurs,” he said. “We’re prepared to go back into the community notify and move those not currently affected right now if need be.”
Reed said the cleanup will take an “extended period of time,” and asked that residents be patient as the process unfolds.