Springfield Train Derailment: A look at the hazardous chemicals on-board

SPRINGFIELD — News Center 7 has learned the train that derailed in Springfield was loaded with hazardous materials.

New documents show more than 30 train cars contained dangerous chemical substances.

The documents, obtained by News Center 7, showed that a full 15% of the cars in the train carried hazardous materials, flammable gases, acids, and other substances.

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One analyst from Cedarville University said the derailment had the potential to look a lot like the one in East Palestine, Ohio.

Mark McClain, a chemistry professor at Cedarville University and chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, looked at the train manifest that showed the cargo in every car of the derailed train.

Authorities said 28 cars derailed and that the train was 212 cars long. The manifest indicated that 31 cars contained hazardous materials.

McClain explained the dangers of each group of hazardous materials cargo. First, a total of nine cars carried liquid petroleum gas, like what a backyard grill uses.

“If that gas were released, it would present an explosion hazard,” McClain said.

Next, News Center 7 asked McClain about four cars that likely each carried 25,000 gallons of benzene, used to make detergent and dyes. “It is flammable, and it is carcinogenic, so inhalation is a concern,” McClain said.

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The manifest indicated 12 cars carried unspecified alcohols. Likely things like methanol or ethanol used to blend fluids for vehicles. They are flammable.

“They mix readily with water and have the ability to contaminate,” McClain said.

Another four cars carried acids, things like sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. If one of those cars were punctured, the acids are corrosive and reactive. They can mix with other substances and producer poisonous gases.

McClain said he feels fortunate none of the hazardous cargo cars were among those that derailed. It would be tough to imagine 50-ton cars sliding and being battered without one being punctured.

McClain also said all the items in the hazardous category are important ingredients in products we all demand and buy.

“We’ve got to have these on the road somewhere. The railway is more efficient in terms of limiting risk but it is not without risks,” McClain said.

Officials said 212 cars in the train, 28 derailed and not one of the 31 hazardous materials cars derailed.

McClain said the math was in Clark County’s favor.

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