A train carrying hazardous material derailed Monday morning outside of Lakeland, forcing road closures.
- No evacuations, but residents were asked to stay inside
- CSX, environmental crews cleaning area
- Katleen Road still blocked Monday afternoon
About nine cars jumbled up on the tracks, but no injuries were reported.
The train was carrying molten sulfur.
CSX responded to clear the derailment, and environmental crews were at the scene to clean up the spill. Some of the molten sulfur spilled onto the ground, CSX said.
A person in the area of the incident called 911 just before the crash to report he saw a problem with the train.
Caller: “It’s fixing to lose the whole tire off one of these cars here, one of the train cars. It’s throwing sparks out across the field. And the rub on it is as red as it can be. Fixing to lose it. Probably cause it to derail. I don’t know how to get ahold of CNX, CSX but it is bad.”
A short time later, residents told us they heared a loud screeching sound, caused by the sudden jumble of rail cars on the tracks. A Polk County rescue crew came across the accident just before 2 a.m. while returning from a different call and began hazmat response procedures.
Those procedures included advising residents to shelter in place.
"And then at 2:30 our phone rung and it was Polk County alert alerting us to turn our air conditioners off and that there had been a train derailment,” said resident Terry Wright. “Close all the windows and stay inside.”
Residents and children were able to go in and out of their homes to go to work, school or other, but the Sheriff's Office did say that there are a few road detours.
For several hours Monday morning, residents in the area were advised to keep their windows closed. Shortly before 9 a.m., that request was lifted.
"I didn't smell anything at all," Wright said of the derailment. "But it was like a loud scream, screeching. And then some noise and that was it. It woke me up and I went back to sleep."
No one was advised to evacuate and no one was injured. However, residents like Barbara Wade expressed frustration at their inability to return to their homes because authorities would not allow them past the derailment.
"Very [frustrated]," Wade said. "I can see not riding through, but not walking is definitely frustrating."
Traffic remained blocked Monday afternoon on Kathleen Road and CSX didn’t have an estimate as to when the cars would be cleared. Cross sections at Kathleen Road and Youngs Ridge Road to Spivey Road in Lakeland are expected to be closed until at least midnight tonight.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, some of the health hazards of molten sulfur include eye and skin irritation. Molten sulfur is transported in a liquid state at an elevated temperature of around 290 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent it from solidifying "and makes transfers easier,' explained the NOAA.