KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Firefighters and a hazardous materials team are trying to solve the mystery of what caused two railroad workers to get sick on Monday morning. Initially, they suspected hydrogen chloride was leaking from a rail car in the city’s East Bottoms in the area of Nicholson Avenue and North Walrond.
Crews alerted near-by homes and businesses and asked them to stay inside and keep their windows and doors shut.
“I can’t get to the house, there’s firetrucks,” said neighbor Sharon Bowers. “I’m standing out here in the cold.”
People like Sharon Bowers who live in the area were frustrated and worried because they were unable to go home.
“Right now it’s a mystery to us,” said Fire Chief Smokey Dyer.
Police also closed down Chouteau Trafficway between St. John and Front Street due to the threat of fumes being carried by the wind.
A HazMat team then approached the rail car with oxygen masks and thermal imaging cameras, but didn’t detect any gas or substance.
Smoky Dyer, Kansas City Fire Chief, said it’s possible the car filled with the gas but then released pressure, causing the gas to dissipate and become undetectable.
“I think our biggest concern right now is we had trained personnel that had reported a hazardous material release and we’re having trouble locating it,” Chief Dyer said.
Chief Dyer sent his team back in a second time with fresh Oxygen tanks to focus on a rail car containing hydrogen chloride, a chemical known to be dangerous if inhaled.
“That’s why we’re going to go with thermal imaging cameras,” Chief Dyer said. “There may have been something with the the rail car may have been overfilled originally. Then, with the sun shining on it this morning, the pressure could’ve have increased and then the pressure relief valve could’ve released some vapor material and now that pressure relief valve has reset. Right now we’re not detecting any leak or any releases from that train.”