Across Appalachia

Train Fire Sparks Evacuations, Water Concerns

Date: July 30, 2015

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by Julia Lindsay

Late at night on July 1, more than 5,000 citizens of Maryville, Tenn., awoke to knocks on their doors after a CSX train caught fire. Officials evacuated citizens within two miles of the accident. The train was hauling acrylonitrile, a carcinogenic chemical used to produce plastics.

After the 17-hour burn, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tested the local air and water, deeming the area safe for repopulation on July 3. Two days later, biologists in Culton Creek found dead fish whose deaths, they believe, align with the time of the derailment, CNN reported.

Acrylonitrile has been detected in a well about 300 feet from the derailment site. According to a local TV station, all other wells tested negative for the chemical, but the EPA will drill new wells to monitor potential contamination.

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