A train derailed and spilled chemicals in a remote part of eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, prompting authorities to evacuate residents of a small town.
Gov. Andy Beshear said Local officials in Rockcastle County are encouraging residents of Livingston, which has a population of about 200, to evacuate, according to a statement.
The derailment occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. local time north of Livingston and involved at least 16 cars, railroad operator CSX said in a news release. Two cars containing sulfur were “broken” and some of the sulfur caught fire, CSX said, indicating sulfur dioxide gas was released into the air.
The company was conducting air quality testing in the area.
“We will work with local authorities to secure the area, and safety is our top priority as we develop a recovery plan,” CSX said.
A CBS affiliate crew member was treated at the scene for minor injuries WKYT-TV reported.
A Red Cross emergency shelter was opened at a local middle school, the station said. CSX also said it will cover the cost of hotel rooms for Mount Vernon residents.
“He says, ‘You’re evacuated, there’s 12 to 14 cars in the river, you’ve got to get out of here,'” Livingston resident Cindy Bradley told WKYT from an emergency shelter. “We said, ‘What about Thanksgiving?’
“I was freaking out because ‘We’re cooking, there’s turkeys in the oven, we can’t leave,'” Livingston resident Linda Todd told the station.
Beshear declared a state of emergency in the county, so the response could use additional resources.
“By declaring a state of emergency, we are making sure every state resource is available to help keep our families safe,” Beshear said.
He urged people to avoid the area to allow state and local officials to respond.
It was not immediately clear how extensive the spill would be or what impact it would have on the environment in the remote area. The sheriff and local judge administrator did not immediately respond to emails seeking further comment.
According to want According to the American Lung Association, sulfur dioxide exposure can cause respiratory problems such as suffocation, and long-term exposure is especially dangerous for children, the elderly and people with asthma.