A pickup truck driver escaped serious injury Monday morning when his vehicle was struck by a train carrying a hazardous shipment, according to Charleston police.
The train carrying chlorine was backing up on the tracks near King Street Extension and Summerville Avenue around 6:30 a.m. when the pickup truck’s driver tried to get around it, police spokesman Charles Francis said.
The train crashed into the pickup truck, turning it on its side. The train was going less than 10 mph, according to authorities.
The driver of the truck was transported to the Medical University Hospital as a precaution and was in “very stable” condition, according to Charleston County EMS Director Don Lundy. There were no other injuries, authorities said.
The train car was a tanker carrying chlorine for Rhodia. The tank was dented but not punctured, according to fire officials.
Firefighters did not want to puncture the tank during the pickup truck’s removal from the tracks, so they worked carefully for about four hours to remove the vehicle successfully without any leaks, according to authorities.
“Charleston Fire Department, police, hazmat and the rail company did a remarkable job making sure no quick moves were made,” said Charles Tuskan, Rhodia’s plant manager. “They moved methodically.”
Fire officials evacuated the lumber company next to the rail and notified neighbors using reverse 911. Hazardous materials teams stood by in case of a potential leak.
The train was heading north and was en route to deliver the chlorine shipment to the Rhodia plant, according to Tuskan.
After authorities determined there was no leak, the train continued to the plant, where it delivered the chlorine shipment, he said.
A stretch of King Street Extension was blocked to traffic while crews worked on the removal of the truck but the road reopened at about 11:35 a.m.
The potential threat from chlorine gas was illustrated in January 2005 when two trains crashed at the Avondale Mills textile plant in Graniteville. Chlorine spilled from one of the tankers, releasing the toxic gas into the air. Eight people were killed and 320 were injured.
Tuskan said emergency officials followed certain procedures during Monday’s crash to avoid similar chlorine leaks. The tanker involved had a thick lining that offered protection against spills, according to Tuskan.
“It would take a bit more to puncture that tank,” he said. “We’re happy everybody’s safe.”
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
NATALIE CAULA/STAFF A train struck a vehicle at King Street Extension×
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