(Tampa, Florida – July 25, 2013)
Residents and businesses in the area of the Port of Tampa were counting their blessings Friday as CSX railroad crews and contractors continued the cleanup of what had all the makings of a disaster such as engulfed the Canadian city of Lac-Megantic, QU two weeks ago, where the derailment of a train loaded primarily with unrefined oil left the tracks of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, exploded, and left nearly 50 hapless residents and visitors to the scenic, touristy community dead. An 83-car CSX train powered by two locomotives had 14 rail cars, 11 of which were tank cars carrying ethanol, a flammable substance used as a mixing agent with gasoline to supplement the fossil content of the more explosive fuel, derail as the train rolled through Port of Tampa property at 5 mph early Thursday morning.
Three of the derailed tankers leaked a total of 4,500 gallons of ethanol before emergency responders could stem the flow of the dangerous material, and the fire crews responding to the emergency sprayed the derailed cars with chemical foam intended to reduce the volatility of the water-soluble substance.
Emergency response officials credited the non-residential location of the accident, the slow speed of the train at the time of the derailment, and the presence of heavy rains throughout the morning which served to further dilute the ethanol, as fortunate factors lessening the situation’s potential for disaster.
Only two of the cars were left to be re-railed by Friday afternoon as crews were delayed in their cleanup operations due to state DOT permitting issues regarding the size and weight of the equipment needed to place the rail cars back on CSX rails.