Tanker leaking ethanol in downtown Phoenix - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Ethanol tanker being emptied in Phoenix rail yard

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It was a very dangerous situation at the Union Pacific railroad downtown Friday morning off 13th Street and Lincoln.

Rough estimates are that between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of ethanol gasoline leaked out of a tanker car and the hazardous material is very flammable.

Phoenix Firefighters worked cautiously at the scene of the leak -- the tanker car was sitting right on the tracks.

"It has a capacity of about 30,000 gallons they say it's leaking about 100 gallons an hour.. it is leaking from the bottom of the car," said PFD's Captain Ruben Saavedra.

Saavedra says the first thing Union Pacific, the Department of Environmental Quality and firefighters did was evacuate the area and establish a hot zone.

The initial call came in just before 4 a.m.  A few hours later, firefighters made what's called a "B" entry.

"What level 'B' entry means is they have flash protection, they have smoke protection on, so if there is any type of flash, they're protected from that," said Saavedra.

As a precaution during the cleanup process, Union Pacific closed the yard to rail traffic.

"Number one priority is safety is so we've isolated the hazard to this immediate area to the yard we want to make sure we do everything safe in coordination as a team," said Saavedra.

While highly flammable, the ethanol also evaporates quickly, which helped alleviate the mess.  Part of the cleanup was moving the ethanol to other tankers.

The big challenge according to the Phoenix Fire Department and what took so long was finding a way to stop the leak.  The good news is that the container holding the ethanol was not a pressurized tank.

By the afternoon, the scene was stable with no injuries to any personnel, according to Chris Ketterer of the Phoenix Fire Department.
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