Residents in Louisiana parish evacuated after train derailment causes acid leak

The incident occurred in St. James Parish on Wednesday.

November 3, 2022, 12:05 PM

Residents in a Louisiana parish were evacuated Wednesday after a train derailment caused an acid leak, officials said.

Louisiana State Police said crews were on-site Wednesday afternoon evaluating the derailment in St. James Parish, located about 50 miles west of New Orleans.

The derailment, in the community of Paulina, resulted in an acid leak, and residents in the immediate area have been evacuated, the St. James Parish government said.

PHOTO: Louisiana State Police respond to a train derailment in St. James Parish, Nov. 2, 2022.
Louisiana State Police respond to a train derailment in St. James Parish, Nov. 2, 2022.
Louisiana State Police

The impacted railcar was holding approximately 20,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid, according to Louisiana State Police.

"Hazardous Materials crews, railroad personnel, parish officials and others are assessing the extent of a leak on one railcar," Louisiana State Police said in a statement. "Crews will continue to monitor the leak with perimeter air monitoring."

An "extended cleanup" is anticipated, police added.

Because the acid can irritate the respiratory system, "all residents in the effected area have been ordered to evacuate," St. James Parish said.

Based on readings from air monitors placed throughout the community, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin said they don't see the need to expand the evacuation zone.

"As we speak they're making good progress" on the cleanup, he told reporters Thursday morning.

All streets within the exclusionary zone are closed, the St. James Parish Sheriff's Office said.

"If you have elderly families who do not have social media please contact them and get them to evacuate," the sheriff's office said on social media Wednesday.

A shelter has been set up at a local senior center for those who live within the evacuation zone. Local officials anticipate residents may be able to return home on Thursday, though Parish President Pete Dufresne said they have secured hotel rooms for the night "out of an abundance of caution."

Six train cars derailed, with the leak isolated to one car, officials said.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation, the sheriff's office said.