IMPERIAL, MO (KTVI) -A freight train moving south through Imperial derailed Friday afternoon just blocks from a major crossing in the Imperial Kimmswick area. There were no injuries or serious environmental issues, but 19 homes were temporarily evacuated near the scene as a precaution.
Firefighters from the Rock Community Fire Protection District working with a Burlington Northern Santa Fe hazmat team discovered one of the overturned tankers was leaking a chemical residue. The small leak was contained and cleaned up. Residents were allowed home in time to fix dinner.
Two empty tanker cars and six other rail cars spilled off the track jackknifing along a curve just south of the Imperial Main railroad crossing.
"We dodged a bullet!" exclaimed Rock Community Fire spokesman Ron Harder. He said a derailment at the intersection could have sent 100 ton cars into the Jefferson County Lumber yard, a beauty salon or Herrell's Market as well as endangering motorists or pedestrians waiting to cross.
Harder said there was no sign of vandalism, but the cause of the derailment remains under investigation by the railroad. He said the railroad maintains the track in good condition near the old downtown.
Just before 6:00pm, cleanup crews began moving heavy equipment, front loaders, special cranes and trailers in to the accident area to help remove the damaged rail cars and to repair broken track.
Harder described the rail line as a major southern freight route to Memphis for Burlington Northern. The railroad also carries coal along that line to Rush Island, an Ameren coal plant that produces electricity.
As of 10:00 pm Friday, the Imperial Main Street train crossing remained closed to vehicle traffic.