Ethanol leak closes Phoenix train yard

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Fire crews spent the morning on the scene of a chemical leak at the train yard in downtown Phoenix.

Employees of Union Pacific Railroad noticed the leak and called 911 at about 4 a.m. Friday.

Crews from the Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler fire departments responded to the hazardous-materials situation. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality was called out, as well.

Fire Department spokesman Ruben Saavedra said the 30,000-gallon tanker was releasing ethanol alcohol at a rate of about 100 gallons an hour when the leak was discovered.

The leak was contained to the train yard. No trains were allowed in or out for several hours.

At about noon, the leaking rail car was moved to an area where crews would have better access to it. The ethanol product was offloaded from the rail car to the tanker trucks.

The scene was stabilized at about 3:30 p.m. with no injuries to any personnel. No fire or unplanned events occurred.

Rough estimates are that approximately 10,000 gallons leaked and approximately 20,000 gallons were recovered.

Ethanol, also known as pure alcohol or grain alcohol, is a volatile, flammable liquid, which is why foam trucks were on hand and crews were maintaining a foam blanket around spill and work areas.

The train yard is located along Jackson Street between Seventh and 16th streets, just southeast of Chase Field.

Union Pacific is a freight railroad that operates more than 8,100 locomotives in 23 states. It's the largest rail network in the U.S., and employs 45,700 people.