Train Derails in Texas, Spills 200,000 Gallons of Acid Into River

Associated Press

A freight train derailed on a trestle, rupturing tanker cars and spilling as much as 200,000 gallons of sulfuric acid into a river, killing thousands of fish and forcing the evacuation of about 300 persons, officials said Sunday.

There were no serious injuries and no danger to water supplies in the Saturday night accident, in which 29 cars of a 100-car Southern Pacific train derailed, authorities said.

Railroad officials said that they did not how many of the 21 acid-bearing tankers had ruptured.

Workers built an earthen dam to contain the spill and dumped almost 1,000 tons of lime into the Medina River to neutralize the water, said Art Henson, superintendent of the San Antonio division of the Southern Pacific Transportation Co.

Several persons who complained of skin irritation from the acid’s fumes were treated by emergency medical workers, Bexar County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Gerlach said.


The evacuations were ordered within one mile of the accident, which occurred south of San Antonio, said Carl Mixon, Bexar County fire marshal. A nearby school was opened to shelter the evacuees.

Henson said that the evacuation would continue until early today, forcing the use of another school, Southwest High School.

The acid produced a “major fish kill,” with 10,000 to 100,000 fish dead, said Pat Hammack, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency.