State of Emergency Declared in Kentucky as Train Derailment Spills Toxic Chemicals

Hundreds of people in rural Kentucky are being evacuated over Thanksgiving after a train derailed and burst into flames, causing a toxic chemical spill.

The incident has caused molten sulfur to catch fire and release dangerous fumes.

At least 16 of the 40 coaches on the train came off the rails near Livingston, 60 miles south of Lexington.

The small town is home to 200 people.

The train reportedly crashed around 2:30 pm on Wednesday, with the incident worsening through the night as chemicals leaked from the wreckage.

In response, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency.

Local officials are encouraging those in the town of Livingston to evacuate, he said.

“By issuing a state of emergency, we are ensuring that every state resource is available to help keep our families safe,” said Beshear.

“Please stay clear of this area as state, local, and CSX officials respond.”

In a news release, railroad operator CSX said that the derailment involved at least 16 cars.

Two cars containing sulfur were “breached” and some of the sulfur caught fire, CSX said.

The company indicated that sulfur dioxide gas was being released into the air.

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CSX was conducting air quality testing in the area.

“We will work together with the local authorities to secure the area and safety is our top priority as we develop a recovery plan,” CSX said.

One crew member was treated at the scene for minor injuries, CBS affiliate WKYT-TV reported.

A Red Cross emergency shelter was opened at a local middle school, the station said.

CSX also said it would be covering the cost of hotel rooms for residents in the town of Mount Vernon.

“She says, ‘You’re evacuated, there’s 12 to 14 cars in the river, you have to get out of here,'” Livingston resident Cindy Bradley told WKYT from the emergency shelter.

“We said, ‘What about Thanksgiving?'”

“I was freaking out, because I’m like, ‘We’re cooking, we have turkeys in the oven, we can’t leave,” Livingston resident Linda Todd told the station.

Beshear also urged people to avoid the area to allow state and local officials to respond.

It was not immediately clear how extensive the spill was or what impact it might have on the environment in the remote area.

According to the American Lung Association, exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory issues such as shortness of breath.

Long-term exposure to the chemical can be especially hazardous to children, the elderly, and those with asthma.

READ MORE: Amtrak Train Carrying 200 Passengers Derails in Michigan

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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