Minnesota ammonia leak leads to evacuation
The Associated Press
The Bismarck Tribune
Copyright 2007 The Bismarck Tribune, a division of Lee Enterprises
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LAKE CITY, Minn. — More than 100 people were evacuated from their homes in Lake City on Saturday after ammonia leaked from a rail car, blanketing part of town with noxious fumes.
U.S. Highway 61 was closed from Lake City south to Wabasha at around 7 a.m., and traffic was rerouted for several hours.
The leaking car was moved three miles south into an unpopulated area, authorities said, but the fumes kept building. The evacuation on the south end of this town on Lake Pepin began at around 7:45 a.m., and the fire department and a hazardous materials team were sent to stop the leak.
Most evacuees went to stay with relatives or friends, or an emergency shelter at a local church, though some disabled people were evacuated by ambulance.
Officials at the scene told reporters a cap on the tanker car apparently failed and that the leak was capped by early afternoon.
But Jafar Karim, a spokesman for the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the problem was with a valve on the affected car. He said he did not know the nature of the problem with the valve.
"The actual cause is not yet determined, but we'll be working with others to determine that cause in the coming days," Karim said.
The leaking car was part of an IC&E train operating on Canadian Pacific track. Karim said the car belonged to a customer and that the IC&E had picked it from the CP yard in St. Paul on Saturday morning.