Cleanup begins at site of chemical train derailment

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — About 100 people remained kept from their homes Sunday as crews began cleaning up a train wreck that spilled 30,000 gallons of formaldehyde and sent at least a dozen people to the hospital.
Five hundred people were initially forced to leave their homes Saturday. Authorities hoped to finish air quality testing and end the evacuation by Monday afternoon.
Officials didn’t know what caused 30 cars of a 148-car train to jump the tracks in the city’s northeastern edge, 50 yards from the Ohio River.
Twelve people, including the train’s conductor, were treated and released Saturday.
Officials from CSX Transportation Inc. arrived Sunday to aide cleanup crews and investigate the derailment. Spokeswoman Kathy Burns would not release the names of crew members but said the engineer had 42 years experience with CSX and the conductor was a 27-year veteran.
The train’s tanks were carrying a variety of chemicals, including sodium hydroxide, formaldehyde and chlorine. CSX officials said all of one car and half of another tank spilled formaldehyde, used chiefly as a disinfectant and preservative and in synthesizing other compounds.
Emergency crews built a dike around the spill and had it contained a short time later. No chemicals reached the Ohio River.
“It could have been a lot worse. We could have had a fire or an explosion,” said Dana Tomes, an assistant fire chief.