Originally created 09/29/03

Railcar leak forces Hartsville neighborhood evacuation



HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- A railcar leaking ammonium nitrate forced about 30 residents to evacuate a Hartsville neighborhood Sunday.

Darlington County Emergency Management Division spokesman Linwood Epps said people were evacuated within four blocks of a rail yard where the leaking rail car was discovered around 8:45 a.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported.

Ammonium nitrate, a chemical used to make fertilizer, is corrosive. It is harmful if fumes are inhaled or if it comes into contact with skin, state Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman Thom Berry said.

The car continued to leak early Sunday evening, Berry said. A crew was on the way to begin cleaning up a pool of liquid about 100-feet wide that formed around the tank car, Berry said.

The 20,000 gallon car was full when it was shipped, Berry said. He did not know where the tank car was filled, where it began leaking or how much of the chemical was spilled.

"We anticipate a substantial amount has leaked," he said.

Berry said the material was to be delivered Monday to Royster-Clark, a Hartsville fertilizer maker.

Epps said the car was leased by Trademark Nitrogen Corp. of Tampa, Fla. Company officials were not immediately available Sunday to discuss the leak.