Remaining derailment evacuees going home

LAWTELL (AP) — A mandatory evacuation order for the remaining 150 residents near a Union Pacific train derailment in St. Landry Parish will be lifted and they will be allowed to return home today.

U.S. 190 also will be reopened, except for a one-mile stretch of a westbound lane near the derailment site, according to Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police.

The train derailed Sunday near Lawtell, about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge. Two people were on the train, an engineer and a conductor, at the time of the accident. Neither was hurt though a man who was near the derailment was treated for a burning sensation in his eyes.

Earlier this week, about 100 people were allowed back in their homes after authorities lifted the evacuation order for residents living farther than a quarter-mile from the crash site.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Edmonson said the train was traveling slower than the 50 mph limit placed on trains carrying hazardous cargo.

Lt. Doug Cain, a state police spokesman, said 1,800 feet of damaged track has been replaced and trains are moving through the area though their speed is limited to 10 miles per hour. He said crews continued to work on removing derailed cars from the scene.

Work, meanwhile, continues in the cleanup, including earthen berms being expanded after a toxic chemical was flushed from nearby ditches. The water in the ditches was flushed out by water draining from nearby rice fields, said Paul Miller, an official with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Crews also are working to contain contaminants that had reached Bayou Mallet, Miller said.

Two locomotives pulling 76 cars, including some loaded with highly toxic vinyl chloride, were headed east from Lake Charles to a switching station in Livonia when 26 cars in the rear of the train derailed at 3:30 p.m.

On Monday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in response to the mishap.

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