Authorites probing cause of Plaquemine derailment

Deidre Cruse and Tryve Brackin
DERAILMENT ... Investigation is underway on the cause of a five-car derailment on the Bayou Plaquemine bridge Saturday.

Authorities are investigating the cause of a train derailment in Plaquemine that evacuated more than 100 residents and closed traffic on Hwy. 1 for more than 13 hours Saturday.

The train derailed while crossing the bridge over Bayou Plaquemine in the downtown section of the city and shut down traffic around 7 a.m.

The highway, both north and south directions, remained closed until about 8 p.m.

Authorities got the HAZMAT call around 4:30 a.m., according to Laurie Doiron, Iberville Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness.

No word is available on how the train derailed, but the witness who made the 911 call said the caller saw the wheels spark prior to the derailment.

Authorities evacuated the adjacent Best Western Inn, near the site of the derailment.

The occupants were taken to the COPAC gymnasium..

Also, part of The Island Country Club, Industrial Boulevard, Government Street and areas along the levee had sheltering in place.

Sixty-one rooms were in use..

One of the train cars reportedly leaked molten sulfur, according to Capt. Johnny Blanchard of the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office.

The state Department of Environmental Quality and HAZMAT set up sites at the scene.