Cleanup continues in Perry County after train derailment

PERRY COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - It's been more than 24 hours since a Canadian National train traveling from Jackson, Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama derailed in New Augusta. Since 9 a.m. Friday, emergency officials and agencies have worked non-stop to get the entire area cleaned-up.

"It's around 18 derailed cars, there's a lot of cars full of crude oil over there, there's cars that have leaked, there's crude oil in the ditch right here that has to be addressed," said Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Scientist Ernie Shirley. "There's a rain even possibly coming tomorrow that we have to be prepared for, there's a lot of work, there's air monitoring going on, so there's a lot than besides just opening the track and that type of stuff."

Many of the families who were evacuated Friday are now back in their homes.

"The shelter is closed," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Public Information Officer Brett Carr. "The Red Cross came out and did an excellent job sheltering the folks that needed it, but they all have somewhere to go now. The folks that were South of 98 were allowed to go home and the folks that were North of 98, the ones that are still out of their homes, have found some other places to go or are in hotels."

Aside from evacuations, traffic seemed to flow smoothly on Saturday.

"Highway 98 is partially opened," said Carr. "The southbound side is opened to two lane traffic; the northbound side of the road will actually stay closed for the duration as they clean up."

Residents living in this area are going to see activity for quite some time because it's going to take a while before the rails are fixed and the clean-up is completed.

"It's going to happen in probably a week to get that cleaned up," said Shirley. 

While cleanup crews work on offloading the methanol and cleaning the crude oil, a cause to the accident is still being determined.

"They'll try to figure out exactly what happened, but right now I don't think there's going to be a good answer for that," said Carr. 

"I think everyone is working as a team, the railroad company is cleaning this up and they're doing a good job at it," said Shirley. "We're going to be there to make sure that we can protect everybody and keep everybody safe the best we can."

"Everybody has done a fantastic job I just want to say thank you and commend them for all the work they've done," said Perry County Sheriff Jimmy Dale Smith.

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