The accident occurred just before noon Thursday about a mile south of Sikeston in New Madrid County on the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks. Eleven cars of the lengthy train were crushed in the derailment, including one tanker believed to be carrying hazardous chemicals.
Fearing a possible dangerous situation, residences and businesses along County Road 824 near Confluent Technology and Highway 61 were evacuated by authorities south to Hood's Discount Home Center on Highway 61 South, according to New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens.
Officers from the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department blocked access to the roads and went door-to-door to warn the public.
The chemical was in a tanker carrying wood preservative, Stevens said. Wood preservative includes the chemical amine, however it was then determined the chemical was diluted with water "and held no danger to the public," he said.
"We were lucky," DPS Capt. Mark Crocker agreed.
The evacuation was called off about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Stevens said Burlington Northern officials then took over the cleanup. The sheriff said the company indicated cleanup crews were being sent to the site from both the north and south ends of the rail lines to remove the cars which were blocking the tracks.
"They couldn't give me an actual estimate on how long it would be before it was cleared but said once they get started it wouldn't take long," Stevens said.
No injuries were reported in the incident. Stevens said no cause has been reported on why the train cars derailed.
The New Madrid County Sheriff's Department was assisted at the scene by the Sikeston DPS along with the Southeast Missouri Regional Hazmat Response Team; the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Natural Resources.