(Abbeville, South Carolina – March 8, 2012)
The derailment of 28 cars, including some carrying hazardous materials, of a 93-car CSX freight train in Abbeville, SC Thursday morning about 4:30 A.M. resulted in the evacuation of homes and residents within a half mile of the derailment site, narrowly eliminating an elementary school, the post office and the downtown area from the evacuation zone.
One of the tank cars carrying methanol, which is used as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel and whose effects can range from eye irritation to nausea to organ damage, was leaking, while other derailed tank cars carried propane diol as well as more methanol.
A shelter was established at the Abbeville Civic Center for evacuees and others concerned for their safety.
Abbeville Fire Chief Mason Speers had set up a command post in the 100 block of North Main Street, while troopers of the South Carolina Highway Patrol assisted in routing traffic away from the endangered areas.
The evacuation was later lifted after air tests showed air quality to be safe, but official still warned residents to stay inside and refrain from operating their air conditioners.