WASHINGTON - A massive cleanup effort is ongoing after a CSX freight train derailed along Rhode Island Avenue in Washington D.C. on Sunday morning.
CSX is now reporting more cars than they originally thought went off the track. While they are making progress in clearing the site, it has been causing delays for some passenger rail lines such as Metro and MARC. The derailment is also raising concerns when it comes to the hazardous materials being transported through the nation’s capital.
On Monday, Metro released surveillance video of the CSX train derailment that happened at around 6:40 a.m. Sunday from one of its cameras on the platform of the Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood station.
Initially, CSX first reported that 15 cars derailed, but that number has increased to 16 cars. The cause of the accident remains unknown. CSX said they have made big progress in clearing the cars out on Monday, but they still have a very large environmental cleanup from the hazardous materials that were spilled. According to CSX, about 750 gallons of sodium hydroxide leaked from its car, but was contained on Sunday.
"At this point, 15 of the 16 cars that were involved in the derailment have been returned to wheels and will be removed from the site so that we can get on with removing the soil that was impacted by the leak of sodium hydroxide from the one tank car that leaked during the derailment," said CSX spokesperson Rob Doolittle.
On Monday, you could still see that one rail car lying on its side. CSX said its wheels were so damaged in this derailment that they can't roll it out, so it will have to be lifted by a crane onto another flatbed truck. The soil around the spill is being removed and they will rebuild the rail bed.
The leak of sodium hydroxide here is generating an old debate over moving hazardous materials through D.C. on freight lines through neighborhoods and past the U.S. Capitol itself.
A massive project to expand the Virginia Avenue tunnel in Southeast D.C. is just blocks from U.S. Capitol. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton toured the crash site on Monday and said she is concerned.
"What we want to do is to make sure that nothing with any kind of hazardous overtones goes through the CSX tunnel when it's done,” said Norton. “That would be the ultimate accident and tragedy.”