Haz Mat Crews Clean Up After Train Wreck in Jesup

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

JESUP - A potentially explosive situation in the Buchanan County town of Jesup got resolved without any major problems Monday morning.

Seven railroad cars, including three tankers loaded with tens of thousands of gallons of ethanol jumped the tracks in Jesup Sunday Afternoon. That forced authorities to barricade parts of the community and evacuate six families.

Hazardous material crews from the Canadian National Railway righted the last of the ethanol cars before noon on Monday. Local authorities removed the barricades and let evacuated families return just after 1:00 P.M.

Ethanol is a very volatile substance if it spills or vaporizes and the danger prompted authorities to evacuate families closest to the derailment.

The potential for problems also meant closing off about 6 square blocks right in the middle of town.

A valve on one of the cars getting set back on the tracks actually did leak, but the 75 to 100 gallons that spilled was quickly contained.

"Everybody did a bang up job, and I can't stress enough how appreciative I am....it could have been a million times worse, a tragedy no one wants to report on," said Jake Spiegel, Jesup Mayor.

The mayor, who's also a volunteer firefighter said shelters were set up at two churches for evacuated families. But those families stayed with friends or family so those shelters were not needed.

A number of smaller volunteer fire departments have been concerned about growing ethanol shipments because that substance presents a special danger and can burn without a visible flame. Using water would just spread the flames or an ethanol fire and extinguishing one requires special foam.

Jesup was one department that has taken special training classes offered by railroads and firefighters here are certainly glad they did.
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