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Derailment at Bailey Yard, chlorine (UPDATED)Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Working to set the car upright, 2 p.m.
Photo by Jay Huff
Trucks on Front St.
Photo by Jay Huff

A derailed tank car loaded with liquid chlorine laid on its side most of the day Monday in the west part of North Platte.

The car hit an automatic derailer around 6:20 a.m. that is designed to derail cars that travel too far east. It derailed and rolled onto its side just east of the Buffalo Bill overpass.

The car did not leak.

Investigators have not determined how the car traveled that far at that rate of speed, Union Pacific Spokesman Mark Davis said.

Davis said a heavy-lift crane was brought in from Scottsbluff to set the car upright, but that was not confirmed. Two cranes worked to set the car upright at 2 p.m.

The car came from the classification bowl, Davis said. It traveled approximately 2 miles east before it hit the automatic derailer. It was traveling on a set of tracks that connects to the eastbound main line when switches are aligned.

Sirens in Bailey Yard sounded and the derailment prompted emergency responders to scramble to the site.

Bailey Yard workers two miles away were confined inside buildings.

Train traffic to-and-from the yard stopped for nearly two hours while the danger was assessed.

Workers stayed inside buildings until about 8:15 a.m.

The Buffalo Bill overpass was closed for a short time and Front St. was closed to traffic for most of the morning, Lincoln County Emergency Manager Dan Guenthner said.

Guenthner said he was notified about 7:30 a.m.

Hazardous Materials crews from Union Pacific and the North Platte Fire Department responded.

The area was cordoned off and access was restricted for several blocks.

Several sources said the car came off the classification hump onto an empty track in the bowl and failed to stop for an unknown reason, then rolled east. The car weighed more than 125 tons.

It is a tribute to the stout, sturdy design and manufacture of rail tank cars that they are built to remain leakproof in such an case, observers said.

Hazardous material

Chlorine is a toxic gas that irritates the respiratory system. It is carried in the rail cars as a pressurized liquid, Davis said. It is the prime ingredient in household bleach, in which it is diluted with 95% water, Guenthner said.

Chlorine is also commonly used in swimming pools to keep water disinfected. In undiluted form, it can react with water in the mucosa of the lungs to form hydrochloric acid, an irritant that can be lethal in extreme cases.

This report was posted at 8 a.m. and updated at noon, 2 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/22/2013
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