Over 5,000 Residents Evacuated in Maryville, Tennessee Near Knoxville after Train with Flammable and Toxic Gas Derailed

Authorities say at least one train car carrying a flammable and toxic gas has derailed and caught fire in eastern Tennessee, prompting an evacuation within a 1-mile radius.

More than 5,000 residents were evacuated in a one- or two-mile radius after a freight train carrying Acrylonitrile — a highly flammable and toxic gas — partly derailed and caught fire early Thursday near Maryville, Tennessee, officials said. Initially residents were evacuated from the Camelia Trace apartment complex south of the derailment site, then the radius was expanded to two miles. The train derailed where the railroad intersects Old Mt. Tabor Road in Maryville at about 3:10 a.m.

Seven police officers were transported to Blount Memorial Hospital and hospitalized after they responded to the scene and breathed harmful fumes. One railroad car was burning. Railroad cars with Acrylonitrile were located on both sides of the railroad car that was burning.

The CSX train that partially derailed was traveling from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Waycross, Georgia, and consisted of two locomotives, 45 loaded rail cars carrying mixed freight and 12 empty rail cars.

According to CAMEO CHEMICALS Acrylonitrile is a clear colorless liquid with a strong pungent odor. A few whiffs of vapor can cause death. Symptoms associated with acrylonitrile poisoning include limb weakness, labored and irregular breathing, dizziness and impaired judgment, cyanosis, nausea, collapse, and convulsions. The vapor or liquid can penetrate a firefighter’s normal full protective clothing. Acrylonitrile has a flash point as low as 32°F. Vapors heavier than air (Density 6.7 lb / gal.). Combustion produces toxic oxides of nitrogen.

Acrylonitrile is used in insecticides and to make plastics, fibers and other chemicals. The chemical is also a suspected carcinogen.

The derailment may have been caused by a railroad car axle that broke during travel through the area. Other names for the chemical are Acrylonitrile monomer, AN, Cyanoethylene, Propenenitrile, 2-Propenenitrile, VCN, Vinyl cyanide.


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See also …

EPA Acrylonitrile

NIOSH Acrylonitrile

CAMEO Chemicals Acrylonitrile, Inhibited