The latest train accident involving chemicals occurred last night just after midnight CDT. As usual, early news reports (here, here, and here) are sketchy and contradictory. Apparently a train car carrying acrylonitrile is on fire outside of Maryville, TN. Local residents have been evacuated and some first responders may be in the hospital for exposure related problems.
I wouldn’t be mentioning this accident quite this early except for one interesting report via Good Morning America (ABC):
“Despite initial reports that train cars derailed, there was no derailment and the fire only involved one car, Blount County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Marian O’Briant said.”
It is VERY unusual for a moving rail car to catch fire without derailing.
In the case of acrylonitrile (and many other toxic chemicals) a burning railcar (if the fire can be limited to just that car) may actually be better than a leaking railcar. The combustion products would be the normal CO, CO2, NOx that, while not pleasant or safe, are much less hazardous than acrylonitrile.
I think that we may be watching the news on this accident for a while.