06 May 2013 14:41 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--A freight train carrying acrylonitrile (ACN) for Dutch chemicals firm DSM derailed near Ghent in Belgium on Saturday, causing a series of explosions and chemical fumes to leak, according to official statements and local media reports.
One person was killed following the incident near Schellebelle, to the east of Ghent, and 49 were injured after inhaling toxic fumes, the reports said.
Belgium’s train operator Infrabel said the driver of the SNCB Logistics train had activated an alarm signal at around 02:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Saturday.
The accident led to 300 people being evacuated from their homes while emergency services dealt with the fire and contained the ACN. A further 200 were evacuated after a nearby river, wells and sewage systems were polluted, reports said.
Infrabel said that those evacuated were expected to be able to return home later on Monday.
The train had come from the Netherlands and was heading for Ghent's seaport. Six of the train's 13 wagons had derailed, according to reports.
DSM said in a statement on Monday that it had leased five railway cars onboard the freight train, all of which were transporting ACN and some of which caught on fire.
"We deeply regret the incident and extend our sympathy to the victims, survivors and to the people who got injured. DSM has actively offered assistance and support in the emergency response operations.
"On Saturday night, a DSM team was on the spot to help in clearing up and processing the water used to extinguish the fire. This morning we again sent a DSM team to the spot to help clean up any residues still present in the railway cars. Of course, we will continue to provide every assistance that the authorities may require," DSM said.
According to a company source, the train was carrying around 300 tonnes of ACN. The lost material is not thought to be large enough in volume to affect the overall supply/demand balance in Europe, and the line closure is unlikely to cause logistical problems as alternate routes are available.Mark Victory contributed to this article
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