1. #1
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    Default Those HazMat drill scenarios really do happen...

    Train wreck in SC kills 8, injures 200+, 5K+ evacuated

    We all sit in haz-mat classes and laugh about the doomsday scenarios that instructors throw at us...and then something like this happens...

    SConfire, are you privvy to any helpful details?



    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/07/train.wreck/index.html


    8 die in train crash that released toxic fumes
    Thousands in South Carolina evacuated; 240 treated at hospitals

    (CNN) -- Seven people were found dead near the South Carolina site where two freight trains collided and released a poisonous gas cloud believed to be chlorine, authorities said.

    An eighth victim, the engineer of one of the trains, was killed in the wreck near Graniteville.

    Six bodies were found in nearby buildings, and a man's body was found in his truck on a nearby road, said Lt. Michael Frank, a spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff's Department.

    Another 240 people were treated at hospitals in Aiken and in Augusta, Georgia, after the accident, he said.

    The collision happened shortly before 2:40 a.m., Frank said.

    A northbound Norfolk Southern freight train made up of two locomotives and 42 rail cars, three of which were carrying chlorine, apparently struck a locomotive and two rail cars that were stopped on a siding parallel to the main rail line, railway spokeswoman Susan Terpay said.

    One of the cars ruptured, he said, releasing a substance believed to be chlorine.

    "The leak is still continuing," Thom Berry, a spokesman for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, said Thursday night. "However, it is much less than it was previously -- certainly much less than we saw today."

    Authorities ordered the evacuation of everyone within a 1-mile radius of the area, a move believed to affect about 5,400 people, Frank said. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford declared a state of emergency for Aiken County. Two decontamination and shelter sites were set up, one at a high school and another at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

    Area residents were taken to hospitals after complaining of breathing difficulty and eye irritation, Frank said.

    Other residents were told to stay inside, shut ventilation systems, close doors and windows and monitor news reports regarding the spill. Several schools were closed, and Avondale Mills shut its textile plants in Warrenville and Graniteville for the remainder of the day.

    Another 25 people were decontaminated at USC-Aiken and then taken to Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, he said.

    Deborah Humphrey, a spokeswoman for MCG Health Systems in Augusta, said 20 of the 29 patients treated there were admitted, and one was in critical condition Thursday night. Two others were in serious condition, two were in good condition and four were in fair condition, she said.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the collision, but a team has been unable to reach the scene of the wreck, board member Debbie Hersman said.

    "We had several readings from the scene, and it was still in the unsafe levels," she said. "It's still a hot zone, and we don't have access to it yet."

    In the meantime, she said, investigators have been pulling tapes and transcripts of communications between the train crews and their dispatchers and interviewing the dispatchers and station crews.

    CNN Producer John Murgatroyd contributed to this story.
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    I dont have all te details but from what I understand most of the victims were workers of the textile plant that basicly makes up the town of Graniteville. They were found in different buildings as there are several sections of the plant with the railroad tracks more or less running through the middle. The man in the truck was a truck driver found in the sleeper cab of his vehicle, I dont have the details but he was probably parked waiting on his cargo to be loaded and took a nap. The other victim was the engineer of the train that was in motion. Last I heard the conductor was still in serious condition. Also the 1st car is still leaking chlorine gas and there is a chance that another severaly damaged car could begin leaking before too long. During the collision one of the derailed cars hit a tree and droped it on a passenger vehicle waiting at the crossing, trapping the occupant. There is also one person still missing in the hot zone. Each of the 3 cars is carrying approx 90 tons of chlorine. There is currently a 1 mile evacuation zone and a 2 mile dusk to dawn curfew for residents. Also from what I hear there have been 4 arrests for idiots trying to win the darwin award by violating the hot zone.
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  3. #3
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    Post And then there's the after-effects

    GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Hundreds of homes and the mill closest
    to where a rail tanker leaked tons of chorine gas may need
    extensive repairs.
    The same cloud of gas that killed nine people early Thursday
    morning could damage computers, wiring and upholstery and poison
    food in the pantry, officials said.
    More than 5,000 people living within a mile of the crash were
    evacuated from the small textile town near the Georgia state line
    and won't be able to return to their homes until Wednesday at the
    earliest.
    And before people can move back in, workers will test every home
    to see whether heavier-than-air chlorine has pooled in basements,
    Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman Thom Berry
    said.
    Officials at the nearby Avondale Mill say they have been warned
    to expect major damage to their equipment.
    High concentrations of chlorine can chew through the sheet metal
    of cars and trucks and eat up the delicate circuit boards of
    computers and automated equipment, company spokesman Stephen Felker
    Jr. said.
    Wiring for control panels, phones and electrical systems is also
    highly vulnerable to the chemical, which forms hydrochloric acid
    when it comes in contact with water, Felker said.
    The corrosive power of chlorine is evident at the nearby
    Graniteville fire station, where Chief Phil Napier said the metal
    portions of the building have been destroyed, along with a fire
    engine, an air compressor and several rescue trucks. All have
    turned a chlorine green, he said.
    The wreck happened when a Norfolk Southern train slammed into
    another train parked on a side track. The crash ruptured a tanker
    carrying 90 tons of chlorine gas. About 60 tons of gas leaked out
    over three days before workers could patch the fist-size hole in
    the car.
    Federal investigators are focusing on whether the crew of the
    parked train failed to flip a switch to route trains back on to the
    main track hours before the wreck.
    The track through Aiken County lacks electronic signals that
    could have told the crew the switch was not flipped in time to stop
    the train, government and railroad officials said.
    About 40 percent of the nation's main tracks lack the warning
    devices.
    The only warning for the crew likely was a reflector disk at the
    intersection of the main and side tracks, where the manual switch
    is located, said Howard Spier, a Miami lawyer specializing in
    railroad cases.
    A red disk is displayed for the side track and a white one for
    the main line. When the switch is flipped, the disk signals that
    change, said Spier, a member of the board of directors of The
    Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, based in Washington, D.C.
    At the crash site, workers began to remove liquid chlorine from
    two undamaged train cars Monday. The process may take several days
    and emergency officials will not rescind the evacuation order until
    all the chlorine is removed, Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt
    said.
    Financial analysts say it is too early to determine how much
    Norfolk Southern will pay to clean up the wreck and compensate the
    victims.
    The earliest any estimate would come is in an analyst conference
    call scheduled for the end of January, Norfolk Southern spokeswoman
    Susan Terpay said.
    Lehman Brothers analyst Jennifer Ritter said she would be
    surprised if the crash does little more than give Norfolk Southern
    a first-quarter financial hit.
    The death toll of nine from the wreck already makes 2005 the
    deadliest year for Norfolk Southern in the past decade. The more
    than 250 people injured also tops the 163 people hurt from wrecks
    reported by the company in the past 10 years.
    In 2003, the last year where figures were available, the
    railroad set aside $194 million to pay claims from wrecks.
    The damages from the Graniteville crash will run into the tens
    of millions of dollars because Norfolk Southern will have to pay
    for property damage claims throughout the town and damage to the
    Avondale Mill, Spier said.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post

    By JACOB JORDAN
    Associated Press Writer
    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Firefighter Bill Elliott watched a dog
    collapse in front of him in the midst of one the nation's deadliest
    chemical spills and began wondering if he had on the proper
    protective gear.
    "He just fell over dead in front of us," said the 43-year-old
    Elliott, who hoped his hazmat suit was strong enough to protect
    him. "It was too late then, we was in the middle of it. I said,
    'Well, here we go boys.' It was intense to say the least."
    Elliott's years of emergency training at the Savannah River
    Site, a former nuclear weapons complex about 15 miles from
    Graniteville, paid off earlier this month when toxic chlorine gas
    was released following a train wreck.
    Just three months before the green-blue chlorine cloud blanketed
    the tiny textile town on Jan. 6, Elliott had practiced responding
    to a mock train derailment with a chemical spill at SRS.
    When the real thing happened, about 5,400 residents were
    evacuated from Graniteville after a train slammed into a parked
    train, rupturing a tanker of chlorine, spewing a vapor cloud across
    the town. Nine people were killed and more than 250 were injured.
    Surrounding communities have long prepared for an accident such
    as this because the site where atomic bombs were once made during
    the Cold War is so close.
    "That's a wonderful resource," Aiken County emergency services
    director Richard Powell said of SRS, his voice still raspy from
    sleep deprivation and yelling over generators.
    But "there was a cast of thousands. There were people in law
    enforcement, in fire, in hazmat and emergency management and
    emergency medical services from all over the state and from the
    state of Georgia," said Powell, who has been director for 20
    years. "I can't begin to tell you how much they're appreciated.
    And God forbid, if it's ever necessary, they can rest assured we'll
    be there for them."
    In addition to SRS' hazmat crew, workers there provided updated
    weather information every half hour for 12 hours after the
    accident. That information helped Powell determine where the cloud
    might be headed and its potency in certain areas.
    "It's not really SRS is the knight in shining armor, we just
    have sometimes bigger and newer toys," said offsite programs
    coordinator Bob Steadman, who meets with local agencies regularly.
    The site has long had an understanding with surrounding areas
    and emergency officials, "which basically says, 'We have these
    resources we're going to offer you and you have resources that you
    can offer us and we're in it together,' " Steadman said.
    Powell, who has six SRS workers on his crew, received his
    initial hazardous material training at the site.
    But it didn't hurt to polish off the training during the mock
    disaster in November, Elliott said.
    "Everything just fell in like clockwork," said Elliott, who
    has worked in emergency services for 25 years. "I know people
    complain about drills, but man, it sure paid off this time."
    Elliott also was part of a crew that found six of the nine
    victims and rescued one man who was trapped in his car near the
    accident site.
    "What probably saved his life was that he was entrapped in the
    car because most people probably would have got out and sucked in
    the vapor cloud and that would have been it," Elliott said.
    The town is still recovering from the disaster. Some 50 homes
    remained off-limits Friday as officials need to inspect those homes
    closest to the crash site and crews were continuing to clean the
    wreckage.
    Evacuee Janet Scott, who returned home more than a week ago,
    complimented everyone involved in the response.
    "I think if they hadn't had all the practice they might not
    have been able to respond to the accident as well as they did,"
    Scott said. "I think they did a wonderful job all the way
    around."
    Williamsburg County disaster preparedness director Victor Rowell
    said he didn't know if it would take his county longer to respond
    to a similar crisis.
    "We don't have the benefit of the nuclear facilities. The
    nuclear facilities provide some funding for the local people and
    also provide some expertise," Rowell said. "I realize that they
    were lucky to be that close, but still when something like that
    happens, it's going to depend mostly on your local people."
    Chris Doolittle, emergency services coordinator for McCormick
    County, said his office had started talking about how it would
    handle such a disaster.
    "If you're talking about an incident occurring in Graniteville
    versus something like that occurring here in rural McCormick
    County, it would be longer for us to get hazmat response crews up
    here because of where we're located," Doolittle said. But "I
    think Aiken County and those agencies involved have done a heck of
    a job."

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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  5. #5
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    Post Followup report

    By JACOB JORDAN
    Associated Press Writer
    GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (AP) - The small crosses on top of St. Paul's
    Episcopal Church are still stained chlorine green from a chemical
    spill almost four months ago, and a vestry member works inside to
    get the sanctuary ready to resume services. A few hundred yards
    away, the local fire station that had to be rewired because of
    corrosion remains empty with hopes of opening in about a month.
    While these recovery efforts are easy to spot, many townspeople
    are more concerned about hard-to-predict, long-term health effects.
    "I have not been checked since the incident," said volunteer
    fire chief Phil Napier, who was among firefighters that responded
    to the crash site within minutes of hearing about the accident. "I
    feel fine. I feel like I'm doing fine. I still have that question
    in my mind, but I kind of look at it, 'What will be, will be.' ...
    Sometimes, I feel like you're better off mentally just not to
    know."
    Other Graniteville residents, complaining of symptoms ranging
    from nose bleeds to breathing problems, have been to the doctor to
    get checked out and receive medications. Their fears were
    heightened last week with the death of 51-year-old Leonard Mathis,
    who drove his truck into the chlorine gas and had been on oxygen
    since the tragedy Jan. 6.
    About 5,400 residents were evacuated from this tiny textile town
    after a Norfolk Southern train collided with a parked train,
    rupturing a chlorine tanker that released a toxic cloud. At least
    nine people were killed and 250 injured.
    "You talk to people who you know were healthy and doing fine
    before this train wreck and they're having problems breathing,
    shortness of breath, headaches," said 56-year-old Ruth Coleman,
    who walked outside of her home after the crash, exposing herself to
    the gas. Her doctor has told her she will likely suffer from
    asthma-like symptoms for the rest of her life.
    Her case is most likely an exception, however, according to Dr.
    Michael Haynes, a pulmonary critical care specialist with
    University Medical Associates in Augusta, Ga. Most survivors
    recover fully from exposure to chlorine, he said.
    "These cases of severe or bad outcomes are the exception, not
    the rule," he said.
    Haynes said the effects of chlorine inhalation would be similar
    to sticking your finger in a beaker of hydrochloric acid, which
    would result in a significant burn. Your finger would begin to heal
    after the initial burn and you would begin to recover - unless it
    becomes infected, Haynes said.
    "That can happen in these circumstances as well," said Haynes,
    who continues to see about 10 Graniteville residents. "If there is
    a significant lung burn, then this can set up the possibility for
    infection."
    But the diagnosis of injuries is made more difficult by those
    who exaggerate their illnesses, which happens when money and
    litigation is involved, he said. "It's a natural tendency to see
    the glass is half empty, if it's to your advantage," he said.
    Dr. Jerry Gibson of the state Department of Health and
    Environmental Control said those who get substantial exposures to
    chlorine have a possibility of long-term health effects on their
    lungs, eyes and skin. There also are suggestions there may be some
    neural behavioral effects, though that's not well understood and
    it's not clear if it's true, he said.
    "We have had a number of community meetings, very well
    attended," Gibson said. "It seems clear that many community
    members would like to see a follow-up. The main purpose of this
    follow-up will be to make sure that the health status of community
    members over the next several years is understood - that they don't
    fall through the cracks."
    Resident Michael Meeds, 25, said he isn't very concerned about
    long-term health effects. Meeds, who lives about 100 yards from the
    crash site, was with his pregnant fiance and son when they were
    awakened by the crash. They're all doing fine, including his
    healthy baby boy, who was born just weeks ago, he said.
    "It could be 10 years into the future" before anything
    happens, Meeds said, but he's more concerned about the detriment
    from his smoking habit. "I've done enough to take 20 years off my
    life."
    Inside the nearby Episcopal church, Dwain Mayer, 66, said the
    odor had faded away after a recent cleaning. Though the church
    hasn't held services there since the crash, Mayer said he hopes
    that will change soon.
    "I think some people are suffering from anxiety," said Mayer,
    who was away vacationing when the trains collided. "As far as
    physical health, I don't know."

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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