Canadian Manufacturing

CSX train derails in Washington, D.C., spills hazardous material

CSX said some cars on the derailed train leaked sodium hydroxide, which is used to produce various household products like soap and detergents



WASHINGTON—A CSX freight train heading to North Carolina derailed near a Metro stop in Washington, D.C., on April 1, sending 14 cars off the tracks and spilling hazardous material, officials said.

No injuries were reported and no evacuations were ordered.

The train derailed about 6:40 a.m. near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station and one of the cars leaked sodium hydroxide, which is used to produce various household products including paper, soap and detergents, CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said.

Sodium hydroxide, also known as corrosive lye, is a chemical that can irritate and burn the skin and eyes.

CSX said hours later the leak was plugged. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at an earlier news conference that officials were not sure how much spilled.

“The fumes should not cause you any problems and you should not be able to smell them anywhere else,” said D.C. Fire and EMS Deputy Chief John Donnelly.

Officials found that another derailed car had been leaking non-hazardous calcium chloride, CSX said. That leak has also been plugged, the company said.

A third car was slowly leaking ethanol from the base of a valve, the company said. Officials worked to re-seal the valve, and the spilled the ethanol has been contained.

CSX said it will now focus its attention on cleanup efforts.

It was not immediately clear what caused the derailment of the train, which was heading to Hamlet, North Carolina, from Cumberland, Maryland.

Crews were inspecting the tracks, which are used by CSX, the MARC commuter rail system and Amtrak. The Metro tracks are above and adjacent to the derailment site.

The CSX train had three locomotives and 175 cars, including 94 that were loaded with mixed freight, and 81 that were empty.

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