Life is almost back to normal in Monument after an acid spill Wednesday shut down schools, roads and offices and forced the evacuation of 250 homes.
The situation began when northbound train carrying thousands of gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked Wednesday morning near Wagon Gap Trail and Elk Valley Trail, west of I-25 on the south side of Monument. Road closures and the evacuations were made as a precaution.
Officials on scene said that the hydrochloric acid was slowly leaking out of a stopped train car headed northbound. A southbound train noticed that the train was leaking and notified emergency officials.
It's estimated about 75 gallons of the acid spilled.
The acid transfer that began Wednesday afternoon is complete. The damaged train car remains on the tracks as overall clean-up continues Thursday.
According to an 11 News crew near the scene, trains are running about every 20 minutes on one set of tracks as clean-up efforts continue on the other.
Lieutenant Steve Burk tells 11 News he is very proud of how all the different agencies handled Wednesday's emergency. He says after all the activity, it was nice to see how calm things were in Monument, Thursday morning.
Evacuation orders were lifted for all homes near the acid spill around 10 p.m. Wednesday.
At about 8:30 p.m., residents of all but a dozen houses were allowed to return back home.
While the transfer of chemicals from the damaged tank to another is complete, crews estimate that it could be days before the affected area is deemed safe and clean. Health officials say that very small amounts of hydrochloric acid could still be in the air around the tracks, but not at levels hazardous enough to keep people from their homes.
Monument Police told 11 News that the tracks will soon be back in the hands of their owner, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Officers tell 11 News that the spill is BNSF's issue, and BNSF will be the ones working with the state and regulators.
Molly Licklider and her family were among those who had to evacuate. She got the call around 5:30 Wednesday morning to evacuate her house. "We just went ahead and got out as quick as we could," said Licklider.
Red Cross officials were on hand throughout the day. They tell 11 News they assisted about 11 families with food and shelter.
To see a map of the area where the train is and where the clean-up is taking place, click on the PHOTOS tab above.
Emergency officials say they do not believe anything outside of the evacuation area was contaminated and people living along the tracks need not be concerned about their safety or health.
To read more about hydrochloric acid, CLICK HERE.
Lewis Palmer schools, District 38, were closed Wednesday due to this accident., along with St. Peter's Catholic School and Monument Academy Charter School, but reopened with their normal schedule on Thursday.
Monument Municipal Court was closed due to the spill. Those with an April 20 court date have been rescheduled for April 27 or May 18 at 5:30 p.m. People can choose between those two dates, and will be considered a no-show if they fail to show up for either one.
Emergency officials recommend everyone be signed up for El Paso/Teller counties emergency notification system, E911. To sign up your land line or cell phone, CLICK HERE. If you have questions, call (719) 785-1900.
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