Recent steps by the FBI seem to indicate that investigators do not think a CSX train derailment last month in rural Allendale County was accidental.
The law enforcement agency revealed Wednesday it has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of anyone who caused the train to crash near the Martin community on January 27. Emergency officials said the crash occurred after the train was diverted down the wrong tracks near the Archroma colored paper and textiles plant. The engine then collided with several rail cars parked on the siding. The train’s conductor and engineer were injured during the collision.
A state Emergency Management Division spokesman said several toxic chemicals, most notably 19,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid, leaked from the derailed train cars after the crash. Hydrochloric acid is a corrosive material that can damage organs, skin tissue, eyes, and intestines if touched. Spokesman Derrec Becker said the Archroma plant and a nearby home were evacuated, but the chemical did not sicken anyone along the rural stretch of rail.
An FBI team responded on the day of the crash, but there had been no other indications at the time that investigators were treating the crash as a crime scene. It’s believed someone may have illegally tampered with the rail junction switch, according to The State newspaper.
CSX is contributing to some of the reward. Spokeswoman Kristin Seay told the paper that the company is working with federal officials.