A railroad tank car apparently containing molten sulfur received damage when a freight train derailed in downtown Roanoke, Virginia, Wednesday morning, local media report.
At about 2:15 a.m., nine railroad cars came off the tracks while leaving the Norfolk Southern rail yard, the Roanoke Times reports. The train was also loaded with automobiles and asphalt.
One damaged tank car clearly shows the legend “FOR MOLTEN SULFUR LOADING ONLY,” news photos show. Molten sulfur, a pale yellow, crystalline solid, is used in making sulfuric acid, rubbers, detergents, fungicides, fertilizers and petroleum refining.
If ignited it can produce toxic fumes while smell faintly of rotten eggs, according to a government database. It is transported as a liquid heated to 284 degrees Fahrenheit and rapidly solidifies if it cools.
“One tank car has an outer shell that is cracked, but the contents have not been compromised” a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern reports. “These tank cars have multiple layers to protect from breaching.”