July 02, 2015– A train carrying petroleum products & acrylonitrile reportedly derailed in Tennessee, with the cargo catching fire and releasing toxic gas fumes, leading to the evacuation of thousands of residents in the surrounding areas. About 5000 residents of Knoxville, Blount County had to be evacuated after the freight train derailed and/or crashed, leading to fire and explosion, alongwith toxic gas release of the cargo.
Seven firefighters were hospitalized after breathing in fumes from the site while a one mile evacuation zone has been put in place around the accident site.
“They are receiving treatment in the emergency room at Blount Memorial Hospital. At the time, some of them were pretty close to the scene of the derailment, while others were knocking on doors and evacuating residents,” said a Blount County Sheriff’s spokeswoman, Marian O’Briant who was speaking to NBC News.
Acrylonitrile is highly flammable and toxic. It undergoes explosive polymerization. The burning material releases fumes of hydrogen cyanide, which is highly poisonous and oxides of nitrogen, that are also poisonous, but not as much as cyanide. It is classified as a Class 2B carcinogen.
Recently there has been a lot of debate over the transport of chemicals, crude oil and other hydrocarbons via pipelines, with the view that they are somehow dangerous. But apparently it seems to be more dangerous to use trains to transport the stuff, looking at the recent accidents that have taken place (mostly in North Dakota and surrounding regions).