Most Abbeville evacuees home as danger fades from train derailment spill

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Emergency workers survey the scene of a train wreck in Abbeville, S.C., where 27 cars ran off the tracks about 4:30 a.m. A half-mile area was evacuated.  SEFTON IPOCK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEFTON IPOCK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Emergency workers survey the scene of a train wreck in Abbeville, S.C., where 27 cars ran off the tracks about 4:30 a.m. A half-mile area was evacuated.

ABBEVILLE, S.C. — Most residents in Abbeville were allowed to return home Thursday after a train derailment early Thursday prompted the evacuation of a half-mile area.

No one was hurt when more than two dozen cars of a CSX train ran off the tracks about 4:30 a.m.

One of the cars was carrying methanol, but CSX spokes­man Gary Sease said there is no indication the car leaked.

Methanol is used as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel, according to the Emergency Response Safety and Health Database, a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention.

It can cause eye irritation, nausea and organ damage, the database said.

Another car carrying propanediol was leaking. The thick liquid is used in laminates and coatings but is not a risk to the public, Fire Chief Mason Speer said.

Hazardous material crews worked to contain the leak, which Speer said could con­taminate waterways if it reached a stream.

About a dozen families and several businesses within a few blocks of the derailment will have to stay away for up to three days because of the danger of a possible fire as the rail cars are unloaded and righted, authorities said.

Residents who gathered at the Abbeville Civic Center were allowed to go home as soon as hazardous material crews from the Greenwood Fire Department and Ander­son County cleared the area, Speer said. Residents were being encouraged to stay inside Thursday.

The first engine arriving at the scene backed out when firefighters’ eyes started burn­ing, Speer said.

A team from the Depart­ment of Health and En­viron­mental Control went to the scene to help evaluate what was on the train and the risk it posed.

The train was headed from Atlanta to Hamlet, N.C., Sease said.

Abbeville is a town of about 5,500 people about 50 miles south of Greenville.


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