Freight train derails in Arizona; crews contain solvent leak

HAZMAT crews in Pinal County were called to the scene of a train derailment involving multiple cars, according to officials with Union Pacific.

According to a brief Facebook post by the Coolidge Police Department, the derailment happened east of Highway 87, at Storey Road. In a separate statement, officials with Union Pacific say the derailment happened at around 11:50 a.m.

Union Pacific officials say HAZMAT crews were called to the scene because a tank car carrying cyclohexanone released material into the ground.

According to the website of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Cyclohexanone can cause various irritations, headache, and even coma. It can also cause liver and kidney damage in animals. The chemical is listed on the National Library of Medicine's website as a chemical that is used to make nylon, or as a solvent.

Cyclohexanone was also being carried by a train that caught fire over Tempe Town Lake in July 2020. The fire resulted in the partial collapse of a rail bridge in the area.

"The tank car has been secured. Clean-up efforts have been begun," read a portion of the Union Pacific statement.

The origin and destination of the train and its number of cars were not immediately reported. The track, however, was not used for passenger travel. Union Pacific spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said the cause of the derailment was being investigated.

Pinal County emergency officials said no evacuation was ordered, but police advised people to avoid the area about 5 miles south of Coolidge, a city about 56 miles from Phoenix.

The American Legion post, about seven miles away from the incident, had to serve as a temporary landing spot for Ty Dowdy and his family. They live next to the tracks.

"No big boom or nothing like that. But we went down and saw about 7 or 8 cars laying on the side," Dowdy said. "Police officer came down and went to the neighbor, my son lives next door, and told him he had to leave and evacuate."

Dennis Rushing lives near where it all happened.

"We got this train derailment. The most recent of events we’ve had out here. And we’ve been fighting these companies from coming out here," he said.

The Coolidge Fire Department says it hopes to have the track open on Feb. 22.

"No train derailment is great, but this is a really unpopulated desert area, so if you’re going to have a derailment, this is the place to have it," said Mark Dillon, Coolidge Fire Chief.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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