At 4:14 this afternoon, Lafayette firefighters responded to the 1300 block of Walker Road, LUS, to investigate a strange smell reported by employees. When firefighters arrived, some employees stated that they were feeling nauseous and smelled chemicals. LFD Hazardous Material (HazMat) team assessed the area and realized that the smell was coming from the BNSF switch yard. They examined several railcars and found one that was releasing Chlorine gas from a relief valve. The employees at LUS and ABF Trucking Company were evacuated for safety precautions. Air quality monitoring machines were deployed near two neighborhoods to check air quality. The residents near Hebert Road and Saucier Parkway were initially informed to sheltering in place till air quality was determined. Air quality was deemed safe in the two residential neighborhoods. However, Walker road, between Saucier and Hebert, was closed to keep traffic away from the area. The road was re-opened at 11:00 pm. One employee of LUS was transported to a local medical facility for breathing concerns. The employee was treated and released.
Emergency crews from Lafayette Fire Department, Lafayette HazMat Team, Lafayette Police, DEQ, Louisiana State Police HazMat, Homeland Security, and Acadian Ambulance remained on scene till 1am. Officials were able to place a temporary cap on the relief valve of the railcar. The railcar owned by Axiall Corporation of Lake Charles, Louisiana was safely moved to another location in the rail yard of BNSF. The railcar will be monitored throughout the night. Employees from Axiall, BNSF, and OMI Environmental Solutions along with Haz-Mat crews evaluated the railcar and determined that the chlorine needed to be transferred into another railcar. The transfer is expected to occur in the morning.
Updates will be provided as additional information becomes available.