Train Derails, Leaks Chemical in Conecuh County

Work was underway Tuesday night to remove nine rail cars that jumped their tracks in Conecuh County. Two of the cars were leaking a potentially hazardous chemical called Phenol.

The derailment happened around noon Tuesday in the small town of Castleberry, just off Highway 31. Heavy equipment arrived in the town late that afternoon.

"All at once we heard a scraping noise and squealing brakes," said Castleberry Mayor J.B. Jackson.

The CSX freight train on its way from Mobile to Montgomery. No one on board was hurt.

A number of roads were closed, including Highway 31, and an area within a half-mile of the site was evacuated. It included around 175 people.

Phenol is a chemical used to make cold medicine. While dry, it doesn't present a breathing hazard, according to CSX officials. But it becomes more dangerous when wet.

Authorities say Panther Creek is just a few yards away from the accident.

"Of course, you don't want anybody to breathe that in, so that was a main concern," said Conecuh County EMA Director Heather Walton. "But it did not get into the water system."

The clean-up was expected to take 24 hours. Residents were expected to return their homes and businesses were expected to reopen sometime on Wednesday.

"I'm just proud we got everybody evacuated and the citizens are safe and nobody was injured," said Mayor Jackson.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management also responded Tuesday and the Red Cross was assisting evacuated residents.

CSX has provided a phone number for those with health concerns about the leak. It's (251) 226-0063.

Reporter: Mark Bullock