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Shelter-in-place order lifted in Wood River after vapors vent from rail cars

Police said residents in the affected area can now leave their homes and turn on their HVAC and open their windows

WOOD RIVER, Ill — A shelter-in-place order has been lifted for residents in Wood River.

Wednesday afternoon, Norfolk Southern Railroad responded to a stationary rail car containing spent sulfuric acid that had become pressurized and was venting vapors into the air.

"There has not been any release, leak or spills of liquids or solids from the tank cars. They are venting vapor as part of a safety mechanism to reduce built up pressure," Norfolk Southern Railroad explained in an email to 5 On Your Side.

The car was part of a group of five cars originally picked up from the Phillips 66 refinery and staged while awaiting pick up by KCS Railroad.

Railroad personnel, hazmat workers and local first responders were on scene through the night assessing the situation and monitoring the air quality, Norfolk Southern said in a statement.

Overnight, two adjacent cars also began venting due to over-pressurization.

A water curtain was sprayed over the cars and into the air to keep the area safe. The Wood River Police Department said as a precaution, residents in the affected area needed to shelter in place, turn off their HVAC and close their windows. The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 6 a.m. Friday.

As a precaution, Sixth Street was closed south of Route 143 to Illinois Route 111.

The 5 On Your Side drone captured video of the water curtain. You can watch it in the YouTube video below.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story described it as a chemical leak. We have updated the story to reflect vapor was venting from the cars.

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