Vinyl chloride aboard derailed Gregory train; no leaks reported but evacuation zone expands as precaution

Authorities said the expansion is because the compound is flammable, and a fire could be difficult to contain if a spark were to occur.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The overturned train tankers in Gregory are carrying vinyl chloride, Texas Department of Public Safety Public Information Sgt. Harold “Rob” Mallory told 3NEWS on Monday.

Vinyl chloride is the primary ingredient in making PVC pipes.

No leaks or spills have been detected from the 90-ton tankers, and according to Mallory, it does not pose a danger to the surrounding area.

However, the evacuation zone established Monday after the initial train derailment has been expanded to include 3rd Street, Mission Road, Franklin Street and Marion Street, as well as residents of The Glades of Gregory and The Haven apartment complexes. 

Mallory said the move is precautionary because the vinyl chloride is flammable, and could be difficult to contain in the event it does spark.

Residents from these areas needing shelter are asked to go to the First Baptist Church of Portland. The Gregory Housing Authority also is offering help.  

Crews are still working to clear the train cars that closed frontage roads at about 12:20 p.m. under State Hwy. 181 on Monday.

San Patricio County Oscar Rivera said four loaded tank cars derailed under the Hwy. 181 overpass.

Mallory stated in a news release that other closures and diversions have taken place in the area, including: 

  • State Hwy. 181 in Gregory, between Sunset and Spur 202.
  • Traffic coming southbound from the Taft area will be diverted from 181 to County Road 3667 to County Road 1612 and then on to Farm-to-Market 2986.
  • Traffic eastbound from Portland will be able to move over to State Highway 35.
  • Traffic traveling northbound to Taft/Sinton will need to exit Buddy Ganem and take FM 2986 to CR 1612.

Mallory said 181 between Sunset and Spur 202 will be closed for the next 7-8 hours as crews unload the overturned tanks and get them back on track.

Trucks from Enviroserve, an environmental field services and decontamination company, have shown up at the scene. 

It currently is unclear what caused the cars to derail.

The Gregory Fire Department has responded to a train derailment involving four tank cars on Fourth Street and Highway…

Posted by Gregory Volunteer Fire Department on Monday, June 10, 2024

Dawson’s Recycling and Disposal Company employees tell 3NEWS they were made to evacuate after the accident. 

“You could hear it, and you could feel it,” said owner Vance “Bubba” Dawson. “It just felt like somethin’ fell over. It’s kinda hard to explain. It was kinda weird. I don’t know.”

He said the commotion didn’t necessarily raise any red flags, at first.

“We have a scrapyard, so there’s always a lot of loud bangin’ and stuff goin’ on, but whenever my COO called me is whenever I went outside and I looked and I checked and I talked to the Troopers; found out what was goin’ on,” he said.

 Mallory said the evacuation was a precautionary measure.

Multiskilled journalist Lexis Greene contributed to this developing story. 3NEWS will continue to provide updates as they become available.

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