Dixie Highway closed for toxic train cleanup in West Point - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Dixie Highway closed for toxic train cleanup in West Point

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Part of Dixie Highway is closed again and residents have been forced to evacuate their homes in southwest Louisville.  That's because the cleanup of the toxic chemicals from a train derailment two weeks ago is expected to be slow.

Hazmat crews finished emptying the explosive chemical Butadiene from one of the derailed train cars Tuesday evening. That took about five hours.

The other Butadiene car was expected to be emptied later on Tuesday evening. There are also two cars containing poisonous hydrogen fluoride.

That removal of the railcars had been expected to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, but problems with mud in them delayed that process.

The cars were stabilized last week, and workers have begun removing the chemicals from them.  Dixie Highway has been shut down from KY 44 to the Salt River Bridge and residents who live within a half-mile of the derailment site have once again been evacuated.

Six railcars are still on-site, four of them containing the most dangerous chemicals, hydrogen fluoride and butadiene.  Crews have begun pumping the chemicals into empty cars.  That's expected to take until Friday. 

WDRB News asked MetroSafe Director Doug Hamilton about the impact of the cold weather on that work.

"It's not pleasant for us, and it's certainly not for you-all, but the colder it is, the better it is," Hamilton said.  "Right now, we don't have any winds kicking, it's calm, it's cool, that's keeping the vapors down that may occur from couplings or hose leaks or anything that could possibly happen as a result."

Crews had hoped to finish one hydrogen fluoride car and one butadiene car on Tuesday. Each takes about eight hours. But Hamilton said safety is more important than speed.

West Point Independent School was closed for the day on Tuesday, while crews continued removing the train cars.

New Location for Outreach Center

Also this morning, P&L Railway is closing its outreach center at the Music Ranch USA building in West Point for people affected by the train derailment. The railroad says all appointments made at that location will be moved to the Louisville Outreach Center at VFW Post 1181, 6518 Blevins Gap Road. 

P&L is also visiting people who were in the 31 homes that were evacuated and giving them information on pre-paid hotels. They are also giving them $100 a day for each adult and $50 a day for each child to help compensate for any inconvenience.  The company will also reimburse people for other expenses during the evacuation period, which is expected to last about three to four days.

Many commuters who have had to detour around the derailment site are also being compensated. 

Those wanting to file a claim should call (800) 786-5204 for information.

P&L Railway also has established a hotline for questions about issues other than claims: (866)728-9210.

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