A CSX freight train collided with a truck hauling trash and derailed in an industrial district in Rosedale, Md., outside of Baltimore, on Tuesday causing a large explosion and fire, according to the railroad and local news reports.
Smoke from the fire could be seen for miles.
CSX said the train was en route from Selkirk, N.Y., to Waycross, Ga., when the accident occurred around 2 p.m. About a dozen rail cars went off the tracks. CSX said one of of the cars carried sodium chlorate, an oxidizer used in a variety of industrial processes that is classified as a hazardous material. Railroad and state officials also said some cars contained terephthalic acid, which is used in the production of plastics but is not considered a hazardous material.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a statement saying that the risk to the general public is low from the release of terephthalic acid and sodium chlorate.
“Reports of preliminary monitoring from the site do not indicate the presence of highly toxic chemicals,” it said.
The train was being pulled by two locomotives and had 45 rail cars, with a manifest of products from lumber to printing paper.
The driver of the truck was taken to a hospital in serious condition. The two CSX crew members were not injured.
The force of the explosion damaged several nearby buildings and blew out windows farther away.
The National Transportation Safety Board immediately dispatched a team to investigate the cause of the accident. The crash took place at a private grade crossing where the only safety mechanism was a sign notifying motorists to stop, the NTSB said at a press conference, according to the Baltimore Sun.
CSX trains have been involved in several notorious accidents in Maryland. Last August, a CSX coal train derailed in Ellicott City, killing two girls who were next to the tracks and were buried under the coal. The NTSB is still investigating the accident. In 2001, a CSX train derailed inside the Howard St. tunnel in downtown Baltimore setting off a massive blaze that halted CSX traffic along the East Coast for days. – Eric Kulisch