Derailment of Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Freight Train Extra 9629 East (GS-2-28) and Release of Hazardous Materials

What Happened

About 5:12 a.m., c.d.t., on September 28, 1982, Illinois Central Gulf Railroad (ICG) freight train Extra 9629 East (GS-2-28) derailed 43 cars on the single main track of the Hammond District in Livingston, Louisiana. Of the derailed cars, 36 were tank cars; 27 of these cars contained various regulated hazardous or toxic chemical commodities, 2 contained nonregulated hazardous materials, and 5 contained flammable petroleum products. A total of 20 tank cars were punctured or breached in the derailment. Fires broke out in the wreckage, and smoke and toxic gases were released into the atmosphere. Thermally-induced explosions of two tank cars that had not been punctured caused them to rocket violently. About 3,000 persons living within a 5-mile radius of the derailment site were evacuated for as long as 2 weeks. Nineteen residences and other buildings in Livingston were destroyed or severely damaged. More than 200,000 gallons of toxic chemical product were spilled and absorbed into the ground requiring extensive excavation of contaminated soil and its transportation to a distant dump site. This has resulted in long-term closure of the railroad line and an adjacent highway. Property damage has been estimated to be in excess of $14 million.