A Memory Of Home

I remember this happening... it doesn't seem like it was ten years ago. There was a massive chlorine spill where I grew up, and news stations are revisiting the accident.

Residents of Alberton, MT were evacuated on April 11, 1996 due to a train derailment in the small town. Interstate 90 (I-90) was closed for a stretch of 65 miles through Montana to the Idaho border... there was no travel on that stretch of road for over 2 weeks. Many people stayed with friends in Frenchtown, Huson, Nine-Mile, and Missoula - - forced to leave their homes, businesses, pets, and any belongings they couldn't fit into their vehicles behind. It was a tragedy on a massive scale, with chlorine gasses rising up the mountains, engulfing everything for miles with the hazardous chemical.

Montana Rail Link (MRL) offered citizens of Alberton a deal - - get some cash in your pocket and sign a medical release that MRL can never be held responsible for any side-effects you experience after returning to your home, and you are gagged from ever speaking about the incident publically. Oh, by the way, you must decide in two weeks. As I remember, about 3/4 of the population took the deal, money is always short in small Montana towns. Residents returned to their homes to find a thin, white powder covering every last belonging in their houses - - not like dust from their homes being vacant for an extended period of time, but a thick, chalky powder with the dead, reeking smell of chlorine.

I can't forget the smell... You could step outside and smell the trees, the rain, the dust rising up from the dirt roads - - but there was the lingering scent of chlorine behind every daily scent, and it lingered for several months.

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Blogger Debra said...

I vaguely remember this happening, though I would have been 15 at the time and not all that big on watching the news.

If something like that happened here, we'd be devastated in so many ways- no way could be just pick up and move all the animals and get out before the damage was done.

And isn't chlorine gas highly toxic? I just can't imagine.... scary stuff. :(

11:02 AM  
Anonymous rosie said...

that's so crazy. did anyone end up with any health problems from it?

6:38 PM  
Blogger Conqueress said...

There's been quite of few cases of throat and lung cancer... one woman I know has almost completely lost her eyesight from being near 20/20 at the time of the accident. Pulmonary edema is most common, with many residents having chronic cases of fluid in their lungs even today.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Josh huah said...

oh my goodness i can not believe that. It is horrible that companies pull crap like that.

2:49 PM  

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