Failed wheel bearing caused Kentucky train derailment, CSX says

LIVINGSTON, Ky. (AP) — A failed wheel bearing on a train car caused a derailment that sparked a chemical fire and prompted home evacuations in a small town in Kentucky, CSX said in a statement.

The accident happened Wednesday just north of Livingston and crews were finishing up restoration of the site Sunday, the company said. All 16 railcars were removed from the site, and crews were able to remove the spilled chemical and 2,500 tons of impacted soil and replace it with clean material, CSX said. Crews were expected to finish repairs on the tracks and restore service on the rail line, the statement said.

The CSX train derailed around 2:30 p.m. near the remote town with about 200 people in Rockcastle County. Residents were encouraged to evacuate just a day before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Two of the 16 cars that derailed carried molten sulfur, which caught fire after the cars were breached. No other hazardous materials were released.

State officials monitored the air after the derailment for traces of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, but there had been no detection of those substances at the derailment site or the nearby town of Livingston since Thursday morning. The fire was extinguished at the site just after noon on Thursday, and officials said that it was safe for residents to return home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems, depending on the concentration and length of exposure.

CSX said it was thankful to Rockcastle County authorities who helped respond to the incident and to community members and local businesses that helped affected residents and assisted the company in serving Thanksgiving dinners for the community.

“CSX apologizes for the inconvenience this incident caused the local community and is appreciative for everyone’s patience throughout the recovery effort,” the statement said.

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