Southern California chemical leak: Riverside County homes evacuated

A chemical leak from a railroad tank car led officials in Southern California on Friday to close a major highway and evacuate more than 100 homes amid fears of a potential explosion.

Officials said the wagon was leaking a chemical called styrene, which is used to make plastic products. Styrene is a highly flammable substance that can cause skin and eye irritation and is toxic if inhaled, according to the National Institutes of Health. One of the main concerns is that the car will explode as pressure builds up inside the car and temperatures rise during the day.

The wagon is stopped on a railroad track parallel to the 215 Freeway, near commercial businesses and a residential area just north of Perris, California, located 75 miles inland from Los Angeles. The styrene is usually kept at around 85 degrees, but temperatures in the container have reached at least 323 degrees, officials said.

USA Today

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