MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Thousands of eastern Tennessee residents have returned home after they were evacuated Thursday when a CSX train car carrying hazardous material derailed and caught fire.
Officials lifted an evacuation order for about 5,000 people who live within a mile-and-a-half radius of the crash site. Most of those evacuated received urgent knocks at their doors between midnight and 6 a.m. Thursday by emergency workers who told them they should leave immediately.
The concern stemmed from the contents of the car that derailed: liquid acrylonitrile, a hazardous material used in multiple industrial processes including making plastics. It’s flammable and it’s dangerous if inhaled. The EPA says some effects of breathing acrylonitrile include headaches, dizziness, irritability and rapid heartbeat.
The train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia. It had 57 cars and two locomotives, and 27 cars carried hazardous chemicals: nine with acrylonitrile, 16 with propane and two with asphalt.
The message from local, state, federal, and CSX officials for residents of Blount County is there is no danger to people living and working in the area impacted by last week’s train derailment and chemical fire.
Meanwhile, the EPA issued a public advisory to avoid contact with a Maryville creek after a fish kill.
Biologists found the dead fish inside Culton Creek while installing a water treatment system Sunday afternoon. They believe the fish died at least two days ago. The fish kill is believed to be linked to the train derailment on Thursday, but biologists are not yet sure if it’s due to low oxygen from the fire or chemical contamination.