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Pansey Train Derailment

By: Deborah Tuff
By: Deborah Tuff

Around 9 a.m. rail cars jumped the tracks in Pansey, sending quite a scare in the town, because the train was carrying hazardous materials.

But as we reported Thursday at 12 p.m., none of the hazardous material has leaked. Fifteen of the 22 cars derailed carrying what we've learned was sodium hydroxide and fuel oil.

Sodium hydroxide is what's commonly known as 'lye.' widely used in industry, mostly as a strong chemical base to manufacture vinyl chloride.

Lee baker lives in a trailer near the train tracks on county road 75 north. He says he's surprised it took it this long to happen.

"I've walked these tracks and seen how loose those spikes are. Everyday, I just grit my teeth waiting cause this is a real popular crossing cause the people don't slow down and the train don't slow down either," Baker says.

According to officials, the CSX train was headed west on 84, when, because of unknown causes it derailed.

In its wake, 15 cars piled up, filled with sodium hydroxide and fuel oil.

Fortunately the only leakage was water. And there were no evacuations, nor injuries reported.

Emergency responders from Dothan, Pansey, Ashford and Houston County were on the scene.

"Several cars piled, they're piled up pretty high, pretty intense wreck," Houston County EMA Director Shelby Womack says.

But Womack also says, they are more than prepared for accidents like this.

"This is an area that we normally evacuate in our part of exercise, so we're familiar with where we need to send the people in the area.

But many of the residents I spoke with say they hardly have any concern about a derailment possibly hitting their home, because this is the first one in that area.

Nearby Ashford Resident Johnnie Smith is optimistic. He says, "Everything'll be okay once they get it all cleaned up.”

CSX officials say the train is what's called a switcher train, meaning it picks up and drops off trains and other materials to CSX customers.

They also say environmental contractors are on the scene, and the wreckage should be cleaned up within the next several days.

Until then, the track will be closed down.


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