Rail car leaking acid forces road closures, evacuations

PAULINA, LA (St. James Parish)

UPDATE 8:45PM : The evacuation area has now been expanded.

“When the wind died down at sundown, we noticed a fog area moving into the northern area of the railroad tracks so we evacuated everyone between Sugarhouse Lane (where we’re staging) to Railroad track. All homes along Hwy. 642 are evacuated,” said St. James Sheriff Willy Martin.

Sheriff Martin said because people were made to evacuate their homes quickly, some are realizing they need medicine.

“Contact the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office or go to the Lutcher senior center. You can also report to a checkpoint area on Hwy. 642 or on River Rd., report to Carlos Bar,” said Sheriff Martin. “We will send firemen who go in with air monitors and determine if it’s safe to go in the home.”

That is only for emergencies. People will not be allowed to stay in their homes tonight.

Meanwhile, officials are in the process are starting to neutralize the hydrochloric acid. The sheriff said he’s very hopeful everyone can return to their homes tomorrow.

ORIGINAL: A rail car leaking hydrochloric acid went off the tracks forcing highway closures and nearby residents to evacuate, according to St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr.

Martin said the car was one of six cars that derailed around 2 p.m. on Nov. 2nd in the Paulina area near La. 642. The Sheriff said the acid was starting to flow off the railroad property onto the adjacent property.

“We did have to evacuate some residents in close proximity to the derailment because of the wind blowing to their residence,” Martin said. “All people have been directed to go to the Lutcher Senior Center and it’s a work in progress.”

There are no reported injuries. According to a St. James Parish government Facebook post, La 642 is closed indefinitely. River Road is blocked from Antioch St to Rev. Dr. Samuel Jones (the Old Ben Lane). LA 642 headed to the Mississippi River is blocked at Highway 3125.

Louisiana State Police hazardous materials unit is on the scene.

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