Train hauling hazardous materials derails in Falmouth, Kentucky

Nearby elementary school evacuated
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Train cars derail in Falmouth
Posted at 11:06 AM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 07:35:38-04

FALMOUTH, Ky. -- CSX officials say it will take days to clean up the mess left behind when 24 cars from a train carrying hazardous materials derailed Wednesday morning in the heart of Falmouth, Kentucky, shutting down the small Pendleton County town and forcing the evacuation of an elementary school.

The Pendleton County Emergency Management Agency reported one tanker was leaking a liquid, but the substance was not immediately identified. A CSX Transportation representative said four cars were carrying sulfuric acid and that no hazardous materials leaked in the derailment.

CSX says the cleanup process takes time since they must monitor air quality to make sure nothing leaks or becomes a danger as they put the 24 cars back on the tracks or pull them away from tracks.

No injuries were reported, but Falmouth resident Tiffney McCoy said it was a narrow miss. Her family lives near the tracks, where the wreck "is in everybody's back yard," she said, and her brother was asleep at the time of the derailment. 

"If (the train) had rolled any farther, he wouldn't be alive," she said. "It made me realize there were a lot of other people who could have gotten hurt and things that could have happened."

Deputies blocked roads into town. Photo by Ramsay Fulbright | WCPO

All roads into town were closed. Residents who live nearby were asked to stay inside and keep their windows shut. The Red Cross is offering assistance to people who have been evacuated from their homes; Flour Creek Church also is serving as a shelter. 

By 3:30 p.m., the shelter-in-place order was lifted and most streets were reopened, except those near the site of the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration placed a flight restriction over Falmouth just after the train derailed.

GALLERY: Photos from & above the scene

Sheriff Craig Peoples said he did not know what, specifically, the train was carrying.

Watch aerial footage of the scene:


Inspectors from the Federal Railroad Administration were headed to the scene Wednesday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board did not send any representatives to Falmouth but was monitoring the situation, a spokesman said.

According to Pendleton County emergency dispatchers, the cars derailed near Park Street at about 10:30 a.m. The train was traveling from Cincinnati to Atlanta, according to railroad company CSX.

Southern Elementary School, just south of the derailment site, was evacuated to Pendleton County High School.

"As a precaution, only the students have been evacuated to Pendleton County High School," Peoples said at the time. "There is no danger to the students, we just asked them to turn off their HVAC systems."

Buses took about 500 students to the high school, Pendleton County Schools Superintendent Anthony Strong said.

It was the students' third day of school since summer vacation. Pendleton County's other schools were not affected, Strong said.

Buses take students to Pendleton County High School. Photo by Ramsay Fulbright | WCPO

The train was transporting 76 loaded cars and 49 empty cars.

CSX crews worked late into the night Wednesday to investigate and clear the scene. A company spokesperson said local residents with questions about the derailment should visit the temporary CSX information center at Pendleton County High School between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Federal Railroad Administration data shows CSX has been involved in 129 other derailments in Kentucky since 2007. The Falmouth derailment is CSX's fifth in the state this year.