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Canadian National Derailment in Mississippi Causes Evacuations and Major Highway Closures

(New Augusta, Mississippi – January 31, 2014)

The derailment of 18 cars of an 85-car Canadian National freight train traveling from Jackson, MS to Mobile, AL Friday caused the evacuation of about 50 residents of the 650 living in New Augusta, MS, a community 20 miles southeast of Hattiesburg, MS, as well as the closure of and detour of traffic from the four-lane U.S. Highway 98, which parallels CN tracks through that part of Perry County, MS.

The main concern of officials in ordering the evacuation and detour was the leaking of tank cars carrying fuel oil and the existence of cars loaded with methanol, fertilizer, rosin and fiberboard among the derailed freight cars. CN Spokesman Patrick Waldron confirmed that there were no fires, explosions or injuries resultant from the train wreck.

Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith said that, by mid-afternoon Friday, the leaks of fuel oil from three of the four breached tank cars carrying the commodity, which Sheriff Smith described as “really thick,” had been plugged.

The density of the product was probably beneficial, as crews were able to contain the fuel oil before it contaminated nearby streams that lead to the Leaf River.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter in New Augusta to accommodate the evacuees from residences and a mobile home park which were located near the accident site.

Sheriff Smith was optimistic, saying that “Hopefully, by later this evening, we can let people go home.”