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Witness describes train accident in AZ ‘like scene from hell’

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A Union Pacific train derailment in Arizona, described as a scene from hell by a witness who just narrowly missed being killed by the train while riding her bike, is a cautionary tale regarding a recent Supreme Court decision requiring additional environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The derailment happened on a bridge in Tempe Town Lake, just outside of Phoenix, AZ.

“Three tank cars were on the ground under the bridge. Two contained cyclohexanone; one contained a rubber material. None are reported leaking, and no tank cars were involved in the fire” so far, Union Pacific said in a statement according to CBS News.

It’s unclear what caused the derailment, which happened just short of the lake by about 100 feet.

Cyclohexanone is a toxic, flammable liquid used as a solvent and in the production of nylon, according to data by Fisher Scientific. It’s a known carcinogenic in animals and can be absorbed by inhalation of vapors or through the skin.

The accident highlights the dangers of a recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“If lengthy enough,” says CNN, “that [review] process could jeopardize the pipeline’s existence, pending the outcome of the 2020 election. Democrat Joe Biden has pledged to rescind the permit for Keystone if he wins.”

That means that more oil will be transported by rail, and will likely occasion more rail accidents, like the one in Arizona.

Accidents involving trains carrying crude oil skyrocketed under Obama, who fought against the Keystone XL pipeline. According to an Earthjustice map of oil train accidents, over thirty oil-related mishaps occurred under President Obama.

Since Trump was elected, only one is recorded on their map. 

A photo by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) shows a cloud of smoke looming as a panorama over the accident scene near the South Mountain Freeway. The ADOT closed a portion of the highway as firefighters and rescue workers responded to the crash.

“No injuries known at this time but the scene is very dangerous,” Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir tweeted. “Stay out of Tempe Town Lake and away from the area.”

One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

Chief Moir’s tweet features a photo of the bridge, a portion of which seems to have collapsed, with entangled rail cars, smoke and fire.

“I turned around to look and got the fright of my life,” said Camille Kimball, who was riding her bike under the bridge just before it collapsed according to CBS News. “Now there’s fire pouring into the lake from the middle of the bridge. … It looks like a scene from hell, truly. A scene from hell. … The flames are intense and the sky is filled with black smoke.”

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