U.S. News


Toxic train derailment in Kentucky prompts state of emergency

According to rail operators, the derailment involved at least 16 cars, two of which were transporting molten sulfur and caught fire.
Posted at 8:54 AM, Nov 23, 2023

Residents in a small town in eastern Kentucky have been urged to evacuate after a train derailed and spilled chemicals, raising concerns about air quality.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon after the freight train derailed between Mullins Station and Livingston in Rockcastle County, about 130 miles southeast of Louisville. 

“By issuing a state of emergency, we are ensuring that every state resource is available to help keep our families safe,” Beshear said. “Please stay clear of this area as state, local and CSX officials respond.”

According to railroad operator CSX, the derailment involved at least 16 rail cars, two of which were transporting molten sulfur and caught fire after the cars were breached. Scripps News Lexington reported that at least one person was treated at the scene for minor injuries and about a dozen homes in the area were ordered to evacuate.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory issues and make breathing difficult. The gas is typically produced from fossil fuel combustion at power plants. 

"CSX encourages residents in proximity to the incident who are concerned about their safety to utilize the lodging that the company has secured in Mt. Vernon, KY," the company said in a statement. "In addition to the hotels, the CSX team is working with local restaurants to provide meals for affected residents. CSX is covering the cost for both."