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Train derails in Florida, hazmat crews rush to scene

 March 1, 2023

Hazmat crews rushed to the scene of a train derailment in Manatee County, Florida on Tuesday. The incident took place nearly one month after the Norfolk Southern train derailment that unleashed a chemical disaster in East Palestine, Ohio.

Derailment involved propane tankers

Five rail cars and two propane tankers were involved, according to WTVT-TV.

One of the propane tankers carrying 30,000 gallons of fuel toppled over, according to the Daily Mail.

The other propane car came off the tracks, but didn't tip over.

The remaining five cars that tipped were carrying sheet rock, according to Bradenton Herald.

Hazmat and South Manatee County Fire Rescue monitoring situation closely

The Seminole Gulf Railway train derailed near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. No injuries or leaks have been reported at the time of publication, and no evacuation orders or road closures have been issued, but the situation is still being closely monitored, according to USA Today.

Chief Robert Bounds of South Manatee County Fire Rescue said hazmat crews are using thermal imaging to monitor any possible leaks.

"We have drones. We run the hazmat team for the county of Manatee and we were in the air with our drone which has thermal capabilities," Bounds told WTVT-TV.

"We were able to look at the tank and ascertain the levels of the tank form the outside. It'll show up different colors if anything is actually leaking," he said.

"There are no leaks," Bounds assured, adding that, "There are no actual physical damage to the tank other than the rollover, but there is no significant damage to it."

Bounds said that the drone also allows them to fly downstream and check on the other side of the tracks, where there is a homeless camp.

"We aren’t sure how many people. We couldn’t visualize that from the air. We did send MSO and some other teams down there to address the people out there and to address the potential danger, and we will monitor them as well in the event we have to evacuate," the chief told WTVT-TV.

Seminole Gulf Railway representatives will work with authorities on clean-up plan

Bounds said the train had minimal staff operating it, and that the derailment has caused significant damage to the tracks, which means the railway line may remain inoperable for a while, according to Bradenton Herald.

"We’re at a stalemate right now. Until they get their crews here and they make a game plan about how they want to tackle this, there’s no guesstimate on how long the scene will last," Bounds said.

He added that the propane will likely be offloaded by tankers.

Seminole Gulf Railway representatives are already at the scene.

They are awaiting the arrival of Florida Department of Transportation staff and state railroad officials so that an investigation can be conducted.