Hundreds in Wood River, Ill. asked to shelter in place another night as rail cars vent dangerous chemical into the air

Illinois

WOOD RIVER, Ill. – The sulfuric acid incident in Wood River, Illinois drags into another night with almost 500 residents told to continue to shelter in place.

It began Wednesday afternoon. Julie Taylor checked on her cousin, who was sheltering in place.

“She’s a little nervous about what’s going on,” she said.

Firefighters from both sides of the river doused over-pressurized train cars, which were venting spent sulfuric acid. Authorities said the air was safe to breathe but still advised people to stay inside and don’t turn on their air conditioners.

“It’s pretty warm inside her house right now it is really warm in there,” Taylor said.

Inhaling the vapor can cause breathing problems. Tim Bond was still holding girls’ softball practice Thursday evening not too far from where the venting is occurring.

“Some of the parents are being on the cautious side, going to keep their girls home at night,” he said.

Bond checked with the experts before he decided to hold practice.

“We did get the okay from the parks director in Roxana that she heard from the police chief and the fire department that it’s okay,” he said.

Even if winds shift overnight and carry the vapor towards people’s homes, experts insist everyone should be okay. If there is imminent danger, they will issue a code red.

“We would be sending out another mass notification via the ‘code red’ system for the residents,” Mary Kate Brown, deputy director of Madison County Emergency Management, said. “We were able to contact 479 people last night, actually early this morning, to let them know to shelter in place.”

Code Red is a reverse 911 system that calls homeowners, even folks with cellphones, to alert them of danger. So far, one person was injured – a train operator was taken to the hospital after traveling by the incident. He but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

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