WASHINGTON - A CSX freight train derailed Sunday morning in northeast DC, spilling possibly hazardous liquid and causing major shutdowns and delays in the area near the accident. No injuries were reported, and no evacuations were ordered.
The train was traveling from Cumberland, Md. to Hamlet, N.C. when it derailed at 6:40 am. It had three locomotives and a total of 175 cars. The scene was located on Rhode Island Avenue NE near 9th Avenue NE. As a result, Rhode Island Ave. NE shut down to traffic between 4th and 10th Ave. NE for part of Sunday morning, but it later reopened.
Metro suspended rail service from NoMa to Brookland as a result of the accident and added six Red Line shuttles to serve the NoMa, Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations due to the closures. Officials say clean up must be done and all the derailed cars must be upright before the station can reopen.
Crews sealed leaks in three cars. The liquid in one of those cars, DC Fire & EMS confirmed via Twitter, was sodium hydroxide, which FOX 5's Lindsay Watts reports is used to produce products like paper, soap and detergents. It is not flammable. The other liquids were identified as non-hazardous calcium chloride and ethanol.
Late Sunday, a CSX spokesperson confirmed a total of 15 cars derailed. Of those cars, 9 were empty, 1 was a general freight car with scrap steel, and 5 were tank cars:
- 1 tank car was loaded with sodium hydroxide, which is commonly known as lye. Some of it leaked through one or more of the car's bottom valves, but the leak has since been sealed.
- 1 tank car was transporting ethanol, and that car derailed onto its side. However, authorities say the car is intact with no breaches, but some of the substance is leaking from its top hatch. The leak is said to be minor and has been contained.
- 1 was an empty, residue LPG tank car which did not breach.
- 2 tank cars were loaded with non-hazardous calcium chloride. One of them leaked, but that leak has been sealed.
Clean-up and recovery efforts continue at the scene, and CSX says the rail cars that did not derail have been moved to a staging area outside of the derailment zone. CSX began offloading sodium hydroxide from one of the derailed cars Sunday afternoon and that process will continue throughout the night. Air monitoring continues to show no notable detections at the Metro station or at the derailment site. There have been no fires at the crash site, but firefighters remain on hand in case.
While the site of the derailment is in close proximity to, and in some cases directly underneath the Rhode Island Metro Station, no contact was made with the Metro track structure during the derailment.
The impact of the derailment will extend into Monday. The Marc Brunswick line and Amtrak Capitol Limited will not operate out of Washington due to the incident. CSX is providing information to WMATA officials with respect to Metro operations, and it encourages affected rail passengers and commuters to check for updates from Metro, Amtrak, and MARC regarding train schedules.
The cause of the derailment is now under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration.