An acid train derails in Australia prompted a state of emergency in a remote area of northern Queensland. The train derailment spilled 53,000 gallons of sulfuric acid as floodwaters are hampering emergency officials’ efforts to clean up the site, according to FOX News.
The freight train was carrying roughly 200,000 liters (53,000 gallons) of the highly corrosive acid when it came off the tracks Sunday morning. The locomotive ended up on its side, and all 26 freight cars it was pulling derailed.
A 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) exclusion zone was put in place around the area and remained in effect Monday as authorities dealt with “minor leakage of sulfuric acid and spillage of diesel fuel,” the Queensland Police Service said. Photos from the scene showed the jumble of cars sprawled across mangled tracks and waterlogged terrain.
Three men who were aboard the acid train derailment were believed to have suffered minor injuries, police said. A nearby highway was closed as a result of the exclusion zone and flooding in the area. It isn’t clear what exactly caused the derailment about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the town of Julia Creek.
Police Inspector Trevor Kidd said that there was soft mud at the train crash site. “You have to take into account it’s remote, it’s impacted heavily by weather, access is quite difficult, and these are the challenges the responders are facing at the moment,” he said. Kidd said that it was too soon to determine whether the spilled acid and fuel had affected the local environment or water supplies.
“It is some significant distance from major waterways and any major infrastructure, so we do have something going our way as far as that goes,” he said. “But it is certainly challenging to make an effective assessment at this stage.”
Aerial photographs showed wagons lying on their side strewn around the area, which has also been hit by heavy rain and flooding Police said there had been a minor leakage of sulphuric acid and spillage of diesel fuel from the accident which occurred on Sunday.
Sulphuric acid is corrosive and can cause severe burns when it comes into contact with the skin. Queensland Train Rail said its assessors had not been able to investigate what caused the derailment because roads in the region were cut off due to flooding.
The acid train derailment is still under investigation. It is unclear where the acid was heading to, but sulphuric acid is often used by miners of base metals like gold and zinc to separate metals from ores.