Crews Continue To Investigate the Cause of a Train Derailment

By Camaron Abundes
NewsWest 9

ALPINE- Union Pacific crews are still trying to figure out, exactly how a train derailed just before midnight Tuesday night.  The train skipped off the tracks near Hwy. 90 and FM 1703, 84 cars in total ended up on the ground.

"It sounded like a big gust of wind, maybe like a little dust devil come through. You kind of felt it shake, and you thought was that, an earthquake?" Stephenie Mora who lives behind the tracks said, "I was thinking I hope it wasn't anything too dangerous, I have pets, and I was more worried for them than anything."

At first, crews thought there might be a ruptured chemical tanker, but soon learned it was a harmless oil solvent.

"There are five tankers on that train with hazardous chemicals on it. There are not in jeopardy right now. As you can see there are 250 Union Pacific workers here working on it now to get it cleaned up," said Sheriff Ronny Dodson.

Sheriff Dodson and others at the scene ordered more than 28 homes evacuated, another six hundred people who lived just down the road on FM 1703 couldn't leave home due to the road closure.

Union Pacific Crews, EPA, and Hazmat officials determined the spill was not hazardous and students were let back into school. Alpine Middle School opened at 10:30, it closed as a precaution early Wednesday.

"They haven't determined the reason why the train derailed, it was only doing 15 miles per hour according to the conductor. We'll just have to wait and see what the investigators find,"  Sheriff Dodson said.

A Union Pacific spokesperson says they are happy the spill was not worse, and they will continue to investigate.