A 175-car train traveling from Cumberland, Maryland to North Carolina derailed in Northeast D.C.
A CSX freight train carrying hazardous material derailed near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station early Sunday, sending 14 cars off the tracks and spilling hazerdous material from three of them, according to a CSX statement.
News4’s Mark Segraves reported an underground gas line was also ruptured during the derailment. Gas has been turned off, and it is unclear how many people are affected by the closure.
Kristin Seay, with CSX corporate communications, said sodium hydroxide leaked from one of the derailed tanker cars. Sodium hydroxide is a highly corrosive chemical that can irritate and burn the skin and eyes, according to the CDC.
Officials initially reported only one chemical leak, but Seay said a detailed inspection showed another derailed tank car was leaking a non-hazardous calcium chloride solution. Common applications for the chemical include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads and the removal of water through chemical means.
A third derailed car was seeping ethanol from the base of a valve, Seay said. CSX said the ethanol has been contained.
CSX said all the leaks have been sealed.
Emergency crews set up a wide perimeter around Rhode Island Avenue and the road was shut down for a time after the derailment.
Rhode Island Ave. remains closed between 4th and 12th streets and the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metro Station is closed.
Metro service on the Red Line has been suspended between the NoMa and Brookland stations. Shuttle buses are available, but passengers should expect delays.
Metro said trains on the Red Line are running every 15 minutes with single tracking at the Friendship-Medical Center Station.
Two people were onboard the train, an engineer and a conductor, and neither of them were injured, officials said.
CSX said it is working with first responders to contain the sodium hydroxide. D.C. Assistant Fire Chief John Donnelly said there was no danger to the public, and any fumes from the chemcials should not be a problem.
CSX officials said cleanup efforts will begin soon. Officials did not know how long clean up would take or when normal rail operations would resume.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser initially reported that 13 cars had derailed, but CSX officials later reported that 14 railcars were confirmed to be derailed.
The mayor said Metro would be inspecting the track, but it was not clear if future Metro operations would be affected.
Bowser said the tracks are also used by Amtrak and MARC services. She said Amtrak’s Capital Limited service, which runs daily between Washington and Chicago, is currently unavailable. MARC service on the Brunswick Line, which runs from Washington to Brunswick, Maryland, with continuing service to Martinsburg, West Virginia, also uses those tracks.
Doug Buchanan, a spokesman for the D.C fire department, said there are no evacuations of residents and no call for shelter in place.
According to a CSX statement, the train was traveling from Cumberland, Maryland to Hamlet, North Carolina, when it derailed near 9th Street and Rhode Island Avenue. The train has three locomotives and 175 total cars, including 94 cars loaded with frieght and 81 empty cars.
Chris Nellum said he lives nearby and his window looks directly over the tracks.
“I thought it was like a semi-truck coming toward the building, and when I looked out the window, I saw cars piling up,” said Nellum, who had just moved in the night before. “So I’m not even used to hearing trains. It was jarring.”
Part of Rhode Island Avenue was closed in both directions. Nellum said his girlfriend tried to leave the area and was told to stay put, but she eventually found a way out.
“She’s an environmentalist so she is very concerned about whatever is leaking,” he said.
Bowser said the Federal Railroad Administration would be the lead investigators into the derailment.