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Residents Returning Home Following Derailment, Chemical Leak

May 3, 1985

CHILDRESS, Texas (AP) _ About 1,000 people were evacuated Thursday while emergency crews released pressure on a derailed and ruptured tank car that had spewed a cloud of hydrogen peroxide.

The non-toxic but irritating chemical was released when six cars of a Burlington Northern train derailed at 1 a.m. CDT in this Northwest Texas agricultural community of 6,000 people.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes at 9:45 a.m., police said.

The cloud dissipated after drifting over southeast Childress, a Childress County sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

Authorities said at least one elementary school was closed for the day.

Hydrogen peroxide is a pungent, colorless liquid that is irritating if inhaled but not poisonous. A chemical hazards guide published by the Department of Transportation said its vapor causes discomfort of the eyes and nose, whiteness of the skin and severe stinging.

The guide said that though the chemical is not flammable, containers of hydrogen peroxide may explode if heated.

Firefighters were called to extinguish fires which were set off by the dertailment.

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