Lafayette residents return after acid spill is cleared
UPDATE: May 19, 8:38 AM EDT Lafayette residents return home after the acid spill from trail derailment is cleaned up.
A narrow evacuation perimeter of about 1,000 feet from the derailed train-cars still remains following the return of residents to their homes on the weekend.
About 3,000 residents were allowed to return home Sunday as crews cleaned up hydrochloric acid that spilled when six train cars rolled off the tracks a day earlier. State police said about half of the 10,000 gallons of acid had been collected.
A one-mile evacuation radius was cut to 1,000 feet from the accident site, said State Police Trooper Stephen LaFargue. The reduced area includes only a few businesses. The restrictions probably would not be lifted for a couple of days, he said.
The Texas rail company that operated the train started an investigation and its findings will be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration.
"A thorough investigation will take place. It could take a while," said spokesman Joe Faust of BNSF Railway.
Saturday's wreck spread a toxic cloud over Lafayette, a southern Louisiana city about 125 miles west of New Orleans. Five people, including two railroad workers, were sent to a hospital and treated after complaining of skin and eye irritation, state police said.
Hydrochloric acid can cause respiratory problems and skin and eye irritation.
A train derailment in Lafayette, Lousiana has led to a hydrochloric acid leak, spurring an evacuation from homes and businesses. More than 3,000 people have been evacuated.
Homes, businesses and a nursing home were evacuated in a one-mile radius after toxic fumes rose above the site.
Evacuees were told it could be 48 hours before they could return, said Lt. Craig Stansbury of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office.
He said officers were going door to door ordering people to leave. A shelter was set up at Carencro High School.
Residents outside the evacuation area were advised to close windows and doors and turn off air conditioning to avoid any contamination.
Mouton says the area is mostly businesses, but there are also a few apartment complexes and a nursing home. He estimates thousands will have to be evacuated.
Acadian Ambulance official Clay Henry 20 bedbound residents of the Our Lady of the Oaks nursing home were being taken to a hospital.
He also says that two railroad employees had earlier been taken to a hospital for possible exposure and for observation.