(Escambia County, Florida – January 28, 2014)
The derailment of 23 cars of a CSX freight train on a bridge over Fletcher Creek near Molino, FL has triggered major concerns for county, state and federal regulatory, emergency and environmental agencies. Several derailed rail cars fell into the waters of the creek and a number of others piled up on top of the submerged cars, endangering the contents, which included a number of hazardous chemicals.
Residents living along Cotton Lake Road were asked to evacuate to the Molino Community Center as Escambia County Fire and Rescue Crews responded to the scene to investigate and remediate a report of chemicals leaking from one of the tank cars after the train, traveling from Waycross, GA to Mobile, AL, derailed at about 7:00 P.M. Tuesday night, resulting in heavy damage to the bridge, track and railroad cars.
Although no leaks were detected initially, the Florida Dept. of Health issued an advisory Wednesday, telling residents in the immediate area of the derailment to restrain from contacting, consuming or otherwise using water from Fletcher Creek.
On Thursday, FDOH Spokesman Robert Meritt explained that the advisory was issued as a precaution until the effects of the derailment could be assessed. “What we are doing is receiving reports from the Department of Environmental Protection and CSX as they investigate,” explained Meritt to The Pensacola News Journal. “At this time, no changes have been made to the health alert,” he continued.
The Federal Railroad Administration, DEP and CSX were all involved in investigating the cause of the train wreck as well as determining what chemicals, if any, had been spilled into Fletcher Creek.