Trains Haul Hazardous Cargo

Cherre Poston babysits children in her home on South Lang Avenue in Long Beach. Poston lives just two blocks from the railroad tracks. She says last week's train accident in Baltimore makes her more aware of the trains that go speeding past her home. "It terrifies me. I worry about it cause I have small children and I babysit for other families and it scares me. I'm afraid of somethin' like that happenin', we'd have to be evacuated," Poston says.

Hundreds of trains pass through the Coast every year. Public safety officials say they carry any kind of chemicals you can imagine. Harrison County Fire Services Director George Mixon says, "If you can name it, it's being carried. Everything, every chemical that's conceivable is going up and down the tracks on any given day in Harrison County."

Mixon says when he sees stories about train derailments like the one in Baltimore, he realizes the Coast has been lucky that a similar accident hasn't happened here. "It could happen here, it's just a matter of time and you look at the speed of the trains, you look at the automobile accidents at the railroad crossings. We've just been fortunate that one of the tank vehicles on the train hasn't derailed and caused problems." Problems that Mixon says public safety crews will be prepared to handle when the day comes that a train derailment threatens the community.

A CSX spokesperson says an average of 30 trains a day pass through the Coast from New Orleans to Mobile.  The company must follow numerous federal safety regulations when transporting chemicals and other hazardous materials.

Marcia Hill