St. Landry

Aug 8, 2013 10:54 PM by Erin Steuber

Despite Meeting, Residents Still Questioning Long Term Effects

They're back in their homes, but those who were evacuated because of Sunday's train derailment in Lawtell still have questions. From air to water quality, it was all addressed at a town hall meeting not too far from the derailment site.

"Don't be critical of what we tried to do to help you. We all tried. We all did our very best. How many times are we exposed to a situation like this? Not very often," said St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.

A packed house in the cafeteria of a Lawtell church, full of residents concerned the air and water quality have been jeopardized since the derailment.

"They're just going around telling us this is what spilled, but not knowing in the long run, 10 years from now, what could occur to the children and the citizens of my area," said resident Lisa Sostand.

But after days of testing the Department of Health and Hospitals, and the Department of Environmental Quality insist the air is clean. The water, however, is a work in progress.

"What I saw today in the bayou, in the ditches, is vastly reduced from what we saw when it was initially discovered. Vastly reduced," said Paul Miller with DEQ.

DEQ says there are no long term concerns about the water and they, along with DHH, will continue to monitor the situation long after clean-up is complete.

"We were very fortunate, very blessed, that we didn't have the most toxic chemicals released," said Miller. "We were very fortunate that we never saw anything from the air monitoring that reflected any kind of an issue."

Union Pacific says the majority of the clean-up will be complete by Monday, but they will be around long after.

"Our tracks are staying here. We're not going anywhere. We're going to be here to help the people of this area to get back to normal," said Drew Tessier with Union Pacific. "You know we're committed to it. Our resources are committed to it."

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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