CSX working around the clock to return rail line to normal after hazmat spill

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The last commercial train car that derailed Sunday morning causing a shutdown of the Metro line has now been removed from near the Rhode Island Station in Northeast DC but things are still far from normal in the area.

“We're in the process now of excavating soil that was impacted by hazardous materials release and restoring the tracks to operational conditions,” said Rob Doolittle, Director of Communications for CSX.

CSX owns the train and is now in charge of the cleanup process. Federal officials are overseeing the cleanup of sodium hydroxide. It is estimated that around 7,000 gallons of lye was spilled.

That was one of three cars that experienced a leak.

Another was dripping ethanol and the third was carrying a calcium chloride solution that some shipping experts called nonhazardous.

The train was carrying approximately 90 full cars and 80 empty cars. Doolittle called that an average-size train.

It’s not clear how much longer the CSX-led repairs and cleanup will take.

Doolittle said the work will continue around the clock until the job is done to limit the impact on Amtrak and MARC travelers.

“We do understand that this is impacting a lot of commuters and we want to make sure we get their service restored just as quickly as we can,” said Doolittle.

CSX is still trying to rebuild the damaged rail line and treat the ground where the lye was spilled. Air and water quality have not been a concern since midday Sunday according to a spokesman for DC Fire & EMS.

“We also understand the impact this is having on some residents in the area and we apologize for that impact and we're working as quickly as safety will allow,” said Doolittle.

The Federal Railroad Administration is in charge of the investigation into what caused the accident, though it could take months and even up to a year for that probe to be completed.