Crews could soon move train cars carrying dangerous chemical

Published: Nov. 3, 2012 at 2:39 AM EDT|Updated: Dec. 18, 2012 at 4:21 AM EST
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The derailed cars on the tracks.
The derailed cars on the tracks.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Crews could start moving the train cars containing hydrogen fluoride sometime Saturday afternoon.

These are the two cars involved in the train derailment that are the biggest threat to emergency responders and the community.

When this work starts that would prompt another five mile shelter in place warning that could last several hours.

From the beginning first responders knew they had a serious situation, but no one could predict the cleanup process would be more dangerous than day one. On Wednesday contract workers sparked a fire near one of the train tanks carrying butadiene. That fire continues to burn, but it is controlled.

By Friday afternoon, progress continues. "We've had no incidents or flare ups that have impeded our progress," said Doug Hamilton,

Four cars have been removed from the crash site. There are nine left and two of those are carrying hydrogen fluoride.

"Hydrogen fluoride is the chemical that first responders are most concerned about and it makes the greater risk for the community as well as the responders themselves," said Hamilton.

Emergency management officials say those two train cars will be the last to go. The 1.2 mile evacuation order remains in effect until the cars carrying the hydrogen fluoride are removed.

It's still unclear how long that could be, but officials look to the past for an idea, like the Bullitt County train derailment in 2007.

"The only thing we have as a gage for our measure of success is the most recent similar train derailment which was Bullitt County, which took a total of ten days, so we are assuming we may face the same dilemma," said Hamilton.

CEO of P & L Transportation Tony Reck said his main concerns are the injured workers and those people who have been displaced. He said it's still unclear how this train derailment happened in the first place.

"Number one, let's get this thing cleaned up and we are going to be here as long as it takes to get this thing right and cleaned up and done," said Reck. "When that's done, second we will go into the investigation portion of what did happen because number one you want to prevent it again.

EMA officials plan to give the media and the community plenty of notice before attempting to move the hydrogen fluoride cars. There will be a 10 a.m. press conference on Saturday and then they should be able to tell if the shelter in place warning will take effect.

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