Hydrochloric acid leaks from derailed train car in Tamaroa

By Gus Bode

a href=”https://www.dailyegyptian.com/contactus.html”bDE Staff Reporter/b/abrspan class=”realsmall”bDaily Egyptian/b/span

Hydrochloric acid leaks from derailed train car in Tamaroa

Tamaroa residents weather yet another scare

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Eleven days after a train derailment spilled potentially hazardous chemicals into the town of Tamaroa, its residents weathered another scare.

One of the derailed tankers at the Farmers Market crossing released a cloud of hydrochloric acid at 8:34 a.m. Thursday due to a build-up of hydrochloric acid vapors. Anywhere from 0 to 5 pounds of pressure was released.

A stretch of U.S. Route 51 was closed for about 15 minutes and Casey’s General Store and Tamaroa Elementary School were both evacuated. Elementary students were sent to the Tamaroa Community Center. The school will remain closed tomorrow as a precautionary measure.

Chuck Genesio of Du Quoin Emergency Services & Disaster Agency explained the decision to dismiss school to Tamaroa residents at a town meeting Thursday night at the Immaculate Conception Parish Center.

” Perry County deputies notified the elementary school of the situation, and the administration elected to dismiss school and bring the kids out to the Community Center,” Genesio said.

Following the accident, a team from Hulcher Services. Inc. arrived to evaluate the situation. Charles “Chip” Day of Hulcher said that his crew had purged the cars of hydrochloric acid, but remaining vapors caused Thursday’s fire.

“They’ve been cleaned and purged,” Day said. “There is zero hydrochloric acid on the site. Unfortunately, there’s vapor in the car. That’s what caused the accident today.”

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Day said that Wednesday evening’s thick fog caused the reaction.

“Thanks to the fog we had last night, the hydrochloric acid vapors will absorb more moisture out of the atmosphere,” Day said. “You put moisture and hydrochloric acid together and you get an exothermic reaction that generates heat.”

Thursday morning’s accident was yet another irritant for the people of Tamaroa, and they were ready with questions at the town meeting. Many voiced concerns over the decision to allow residents to come back to their homes, how much notice should have been given concerning vapors that could be released and how prepared area hospitals are to handle the situation.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich will visit the Parish Center today at noon to talk to Tamaroa residents.

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