Nitric Acid Leak from Union Pacific Railcar Triggers Evacuations

A leak from a Union Pacific tanker car carrying nitric acid led to evacuations and a highway closure lasting over two hours, multiple sources reported.

At approximately 10 a.m., witnesses observed a railcar on the Union Pacific track emitting a chemical cloud.

Responding to the incident were White County Emergency Management, the White County sheriff’s office, the Beebe Fire Department, Beebe police, NorthStar EMS, and Union Pacific teams, among others.

Due to the leak, a section of the highway was closed from around noon until 2:30 p.m. on Monday, and the area was evacuated, according to various sources, including the White County sheriff’s office.

The leaked chemical, identified as nitric acid, is a colorless liquid that can produce yellow or red fumes and has a sharp, acrid smell. Nitric acid is commonly used in the production of fertilizers, dyes, and explosives, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also highlights that exposure to nitric acid can lead to irritation of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Additionally, it can cause more severe health issues such as delayed pulmonary oedema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion.

Image source: Colin Murphey