Officials warned Washington, D.C., area residents to brace for a potentially slow commute Monday after a CSX freight train derailed near a Metro stop, sending 15 cars off the tracks and spilling hazardous material.
The train derailed at about 6:40 a.m. Sunday near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, and one of the cars leaked sodium hydroxide, which is used to produce various household products, including paper, soap and detergents, CSX said.
No injuries were reported, and no evacuations were ordered.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said no trains will be running on the tracks on Monday, and CSX couldn’t say how long the cleanup might take.
“We understand that this a significant inconvenience to commuters and to this community, so we’re working as quickly as we possibly can, with safety as the first priority,” CSX spokeswoman Melanie Cost said.
Sodium hydroxide, also known as corrosive lye, is a chemical that can irritate and burn the skin and eyes. D.C. Fire and EMS Deputy Chief John Donnelly said officials believe about half of the 15,500 gallon tanker leaked into the rail bed and ground before it was plugged, but no problems have been reported.
“At this point, all of the air monitoring has been good,” Donnelly said.
The Federal Railroad Administration issued a statement later on Sunday that 15 cars had derailed, nine of them empty and one a general freight car carrying scrap steel. Spokesman Matthew Lehner said five were tank cars, including the one loaded with sodium hydroxide.
Officials found that another derailed car had been leaking nonhazardous calcium chloride, CSX said. That leak has also been plugged, the company said.
A third car was slowly leaking ethanol from the base of a valve, CSX said. Officials worked to reseal the valve, and the spilled the ethanol has been contained. (AP)