JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Hundreds of residents in Jacksonville were told to evacuate their homes on Sunday after a rail car spilled hundreds of gallons of toxic chemicals near a residential area, making the air unsafe to breathe.
The car was carrying nearly 30,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid – a toxic chemical – and leaked between 200 to 300 gallons on the ground, according to Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Keith Powers.
The chemical spill created a cloud, which prompted an evacuation order by the City for residents in the nearby area. Three hours later, the order was lifted after officials determined the spill had been contained and the air was safe to breathe.
The incident occurred around 1 am at the Florida East Coast Railway. The damage from the spill could have been much worse, Powers told News4Jax.
“We put a team in their Level A suits. They went in and patched the leak, stopped the leak, but because it was a couple hundred gallons on the ground that were creating a cloud, out of an abundance of caution we geofence that area and alerted the residents. I needed to evacuate until that cloud dissipated just for safety reasons.”
CONCERN OVER RECENT TRAIN, CHEMICAL INCIDENTS
On July 14, a passenger train derailed in Lakeland, Florida after it tore through a semi-truck that had gotten stuck on the tracks. Remarkably, the crash resulted in only eight injuries. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd called it a “miracle” that no one died or suffered more serious harm.
In addition to the train derailments, two massive fires burned toxic chemicals into the Florida air. On February 13, a trash facility caught fire in Doral, Florida and burned for weeks.
Three days later, an industrial warehouse in Kissimmee caught fire and burned through thousands of plastic containers.
Responding to the alarming incidents, one military veteran asked his 36,000 followers: “Are we under attack?”