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Derailed: the 1982 crash still troublesome for Livingston

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LIVINGSTON- Town leaders are planning the last phase of chemical remediation connected to a fiery train derailment 31 years ago.

Mayor Derral Jones said next week, a contract could be finalized to do the remaining work, which injects a chemical into the ground that reacts with the hazardous material compound and neutralizes it. Jones said advances in technology are being used to solve the issue that has been an unfortunate staple of the town since the accident in September 1982.

The Department of Environmental Quality has approved the process.

Of the numerous chemicals that had to be extracted after the crash, only one remains. Jones said it is a chemical that was used in dry cleaning and is known to cause cancer.

Once the last phase is started, the process would take a few months. Jones said after it is finished, scientists will continue testing for a year. He believes the entire ordeal could be over in about two years.

After everything is deemed clean, the site at the corner of Highway 190 and Circle Drive will be closed. Jones hopes it could become a park or something that townspeople can enjoy.

Back in 1982, some 2700 people were evacuated after the mile-long train derailed. A fiery mess lingered for days and WBRZ archive video showed a heap of rubble including burned structures and houses that had damage from the pressure of the explosion.

No one was killed and there were no serious injuries.

Since the wreck, doctors have been conducting a health study. Jones said luckily, there have been no signs of any unusual health issues in the population.

According to file reports, the train's engineer was accused of being drunk and was found guilty of recklessly handling the hazardous cargo.

The step forward in Livingston Parish comes as officials in Canada deal with a deadly oil train derailment where 15 people were killed. Authorities said Tuesday they planned to open a criminal investigation into the matter. As many as 50 people are still missing after the incident on Saturday.

Slide show of images from WBRZ archive
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