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Chemical spill cleanup keeps W. Virginians out of homes

Train June 21, 1998
Web posted at: 10:39 p.m. EDT (0239 GMT)

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia (CNN) -- About 100 residents of a suburb of Huntington will not be allowed to return to their homes until Monday at the earliest, following a train derailment that spilled about 30,000 gallons of formaldehyde and sent 12 people to the hospital.

The spill occurred Saturday in Huntington's Guyandotte neighborhood when 30 cars of a 148-car CSX freight train jumped the tracks near the Ohio River as it headed from Huntington to Parkersburg. A dike was built in the area of the spill to keep the chemical from spilling into the river.

Those injured, including the train's conductor, were treated for breathing and stomach problems and released. Nine firefighters who assisted in the evacuation also went to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but none reported serious problems.

Cabell County Paramedic Supervisor David Miller told CNN the prolonged evacuation was a precautionary measure.

"We're still clearing the track and getting to the chemical carrying vehicles and won't be able to finish until tomorrow," said Miller.

The cause of the derailment remains unknown. CSX is assisting in the cleanup and laying down new track at the site of the derailment.

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