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Chemical Leak Accidents in Three States Rout Hundreds

August 13, 1985

Undated (AP) _ A derailed train, a leaky tanker, and a forklift plowing into a pipeline spilled hazardous chemicals in Arizona, Washington, and New Jersey, routing more than 650 residents from their homes.

About 30 miles north of Kingman, Ariz., 27 cars of a Sante Fe train flipped early Monday, causing a series of explosions that engulfed 11 cars in flames and rocked nearby houses.

The 70-car train was hauling 46 containers filled with about 30 hazardous chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, benzine, methanol, butyl and alcohol derivatives, said Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the railroad in Los Angeles. He said benzine probably caused the fire, which was still burning late Monday night.

About 250 people from three communities were evacuated with all but 50 returning by early today. The cause of the derailment was under investigation, officials said.

In Washington, a 5,000-gallon tanker carrying hazardous materials leaked one-tenth of its contents on the busy Capitol Beltway during evening rush-hour traffic.

Police closed a two-mile stretch of the beltway, the area’s main expressway, and evacuated 300 people who lived within a half-mile radius. The beltway reopened at 3 a.m. after the spilled cleaning solvent was mopped up and the tanker’s contents transferred to another truck, said Virginia State Police Sgt. K.W. Grant.

Two minor injuries were reported, with both victims complaining of irritated membranes, officials said. Evacuees returned home early today.

The 20-wheel tanker truck, owned by Applied Technology, was hauling industrial-strength cleaning solvents from the Portsmouth, Va., naval yard to a New Jersey treatment center when the driver discovered the leak in the underside of the tanker, county fire department spokeswoman Pam Weiger said.

The mixture was believed to contain hydrazine, thiourea, ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid, ammonium hydroxide and sulfates.

A 2,500-gallon toxic spill at a chemical plant in Camden, N.J., was cleaned up Monday after a forklift ruptured a pipe to a storage tank. More than 100 residents were evacuated for about six hours.

The substance, which poured into a sewage system culvert, was aniline, which can be extremely dangerous if inhaled, said police Lt. Art Lewandowski. Aniline is a colorless, oily liquid used in making dyes, varnishes and rocket fuel.

Cleanup crews quickly dumped sand on a 50-by-100 foot area at H. Kohnstamm & Co. Inc., to absorb most of the chemical before it reached the sewer system, said spokesman Jim Staples of the Department of Environmental Protection.

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