Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Chemical Fumes From Train Crash Kill Nearby Residents

WMD's In Our Back Yard

Now this is scary:
The collision of two freight trains released a plume of toxic fumes that killed an engineer and two people who lived nearby, investigators said Tuesday. Two others were left critically ill.


A tanker car carrying pressurized chlorine broke open in the collision, venting tons of gas into the air. A small amount of ammonium nitrate was also released from three UP cars.

The gas clouds dissipated by late Monday morning, after drifting up to 10 miles to San Antonio's SeaWorld amusement park, where six people were treated for minor respiratory irritation.

Jerry Leyva, an investigator with the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office, said Gene Hale, 85, and Lois Koerber, 59, died from the effects of breathing chlorine gas. Their bodies were found Monday afternoon in their home about a mile from the crash.

Also killed by the gas was Heath Pape, a 23-year-old conductor aboard the Union Pacific train.

Leyva said the deaths have been ruled accidental.

Two people who lived near the crash remained in critical condition. San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Randy Jenkins said more than 40 other people suffered mostly minor respiratory irritation.
This happened in a rural area killing two people about a mile from the crash. Imagine if it had happened in the center of a major city, say Washington D.C.?

UPDATE: Another incident here.