Eight railroad cars — one of which is loaded with thousands of gallons of poisonous sulfuric acid — derailed early Sunday morning near Gilbert in Lexington County.
No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train could not be immediately learned. Authorities placed the sparsely settled rural area on voluntary evacuation, and residents of two nearby houses have gone to stay with relatives, officials said.
Officials say no immediate danger exists because, as of late afternoon, there had been no leaks from the tank car containing the sulfuric acid. The acid can burn skin and eyes.
However, should there be a leak, sulfuric acid gives off harmful fumes — fumes that could intensify if mixed with water. A steady rain fell throughout much of Sunday, and the 50 emergency workers on the scene were keeping their gas masks handy.
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The accident happened on a railroad crossing of a dirt road between Lexington and Gilbert. It is near the intersection of Isiah Hall and Hayes Crossing roads.
The train only had 10 cars in all, including two locomotives, said Robin Chapman, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern.Chapman said the train was traveling from Linwood, N.C., to Savannah, Ga., when it derailed. The train speed limit where the derailing happened is 45 mph, he said.
Officials from Norfolk Southern, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and the EPA were on the scene.
Officials hoped to get all cars back on the tracks by Monday morning. They were using cranes to lift cars back on the tracks.