Hazmat Spill in Lawtell – A Closer Look

A Closer Look into the Hazmat spill in Lawtell

The Sunday’s train derailment in Louisiana released three known chemicals into the environment.  The hazmat spill included sodium hydroxide, lubricating oil and dodecanoic acid. The amount of hazmat spilled is unclear as of now.  The Louisiana State Police Sergeant, James Anderson, states that the chemicals in the hazmat spill were not identified until Monday evening.

Hazmat Storage Solutions by U.S. Chemical Storage

Hazmat Chemical Storage Building by U.S. Chemical Storage

Sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda or lye, is very toxic and dangerous to human health and the environment.  The toxic chemical can cause harm to individuals and can even cause death if it is handled improperly.  Sodium hydroxide is used as a strong chemical base in the paper industry, textile industry and for manufacturing soaps, drain cleaners and detergents.  The toxic chemical also dissolves flesh and is used as a cleaning agent for grease, oils, fats etc…

Even though the lubricating oil that was spilled has a low risk of flammability, it can still contaminate the ground area and leak into ground water.  The lubricating oil that was spilled is similar to motor oil that is used for vehicles.

Dodecanoic acid is a toxic chemical that is primarily used in manufacturing high-performance detergent, soaps and processing aids for leathers and textiles. The toxic chemical, if leaked into the water systems, can kill marine life and ecosystems alike.

Two rail cars were overturned with vinyl chloride, a very lethal substance, but were not found to be leaking.  Officials noted that if the two rail cars that contained the vinyl chloride were found leaking, it could have deadly results. Vinyl chloride has a number of deadly dangers to be concerned about.  If one of the tanks were to rupture, individuals in the immediate area would be in danger from the extreme cold since vinyl chloride creates instant frostbite.  Furthermore, upon release, the chemical creates a gas which creates an immediate fire and explosion.  Inhaling vinyl chloride over long periods of time could cause liver cancer.

Dikes were constructed around the derailment site to keep the toxic chemical from leaving the site.  Hazmat crews have been vacuuming up all of the chemical that have been spilled.

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