Floridian first responders described facing a “minefield”-like scenario Tuesday after six train cars derailed in the sunshine state.
One of the train cars was transporting about 30,000 gallons of propane, while the remaining five were carrying sheetrock.
The derailment occurred as a Seminole Gulf Railway train was traversing Sarasota County, according to News Channel 8 WFLA.
“It looks like a minefield, honestly,” Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Robert Bounds told the local news station. “The cars are on their side. [The train] was in motion when it happened, so it wasn’t just a tip-over, they really dug in and the tracks are pulled up and torn up.”
SARASOTA, Fla. – Officials in Manatee County are investigating what led up to a train derailment.#BREAKING: A train has partially derailed near the Sarasota-Manatee County line in Florida.
📌 SARASOTA pic.twitter.com/ix3NcRVw7f
— Mekal Shan (@mekalshan) February 28, 2023
Bounds reported that the propane-filled car stayed put together following the derailment and did not appear to be leaking.
“As of right now, there is no real emergency. We’re standing by in the event that there becomes one,” he said. “Right now, the tanks are all sealed, they’re not leaking, there’s no evidence of any damage to them that would cause a leak so we’re just monitoring the situation.”
According to Bounds, the situation in Florida could worsen as workers must remove the propane from the tank before placing the train car upright in order to clear the tracks.
“The real potential will be when they come to offload the product,” Bounds explained. “That will be when we really have to monitor the situation very closely to ensure there’s no actual leakage.”
Hazmat teams are reportedly watching the propane-filled car from both the sky and ground via the use of thermal imaging technology.
Bounds indicated the cleanup process could last one to three days, and that nearby buildings may be evacuated as crews work.
“We want to ensure everybody’s safety first and foremost so we will probably evacuate the buildings up to the front on 15th Street just for however long it’s going to take them to offload the product,” stated the fire chief.
This event comes after a far more serious derailment that recently took place in East Palestine, Ohio. Last month, the small town found its ecosystem contaminated after 38 train cars derailed, spilling toxic chemicals around the surrounding area. Officials responded by intentionally burning many of these chemicals into the sky, describing their decision as a much-needed ‘controlled burn.’