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Two of four rail cars in Wood River no longer leaking chemical, officials say

Two of four rail cars in Wood River no longer leaking chemical, officials say

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Residents in southwest Wood River warned to stay inside, shut windows after chemical leak

The Wood River Fire Department sprays water onto rail cars that were venting sulfuric acid on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Wood River. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

WOOD RIVER — Crews this week were close to containing sulfuric acid vapors that have been leaking from rail cars in Wood River.

Authorities announced Monday that two of the four rail cars that were venting vapors are now "sealed and secure." The other two cars have "nearly reached this stage," authorities said.

"Any remaining venting is captured by a scrubber system that was installed over the weekend," according to a statement by an emergency operations team that includes Wood River police and fire departments, the nearby Phillips 66 refinery and Norfolk Southern railroad.

Commanders on Tuesday said monitoring showed the air was safe so there was no need for a shelter-in-place order or road closings. 

The problem was first detected in one rail car last Wednesday when vapors leaked and sickened a rail worker. Norfolk Southern spokesman Jeff DeGraff said the sulfuric acid had become over-pressurized and was venting from four cars by Thursday.

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