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Kentucky Guard Unit Checks Air Quality at Derailment Site

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2007 – A special team of National Guardsmen is conducting an environmental survey at the site of a train derailment that occurred in Brooks, Ky., earlier today.

The derailment occurred south of Louisville, spilling a flammable liquid that ignited and caused a fire along the track and among the tanker cars, according to a report from the National Guard Bureau’s joint operations center here.

Fifteen members of the Kentucky National Guards’ 41st Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) have been deployed to the derailment site to assist local emergency responders, a Kentucky National Guard official said.

“They’re assisting the fire chief from Bullitt County, conducting air quality studies and monitoring the air to make sure it’s safe,” said David Altom, a Kentucky National Guard spokesman.

Altom said two industrial chemicals -- cyclohexene and ethylmethyltetone -- were burning and that officials were concerned about their potential toxicity. A nearby school was evacuated because of this concern, he said. However, he added, both these chemicals “burn off” well.

The 41st Civil Support Team is monitoring how the smoke plume affects local air quality, Altom said.

The state’s joint incident site communications capability team is also at the derailment site providing communications back up for the emergency responders, Altom said. In addition, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from the Kentucky Guards’ 63rd Aviation Group is providing overhead site monitoring and transport duties, he said.

Local fire and emergency responders are on site, while other National Guard aviation and fire fighting assets are on standby, National Guard Bureau officials said.

The Kentucky Guard civil support team is among 42 across the nation that have been established since 1999 to supplement local authorities and provide specialized emergency response capacities in the event of major contingencies.

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