Decatur authorities have given an "all-clear" after a bomb squad on the scene reported that a suspicious package found on a rail car Thursday morning was determined to contain marijuana.
Decatur Police, Decatur Fire Department, the Huntsville Bomb Squad and the FBI were all on the scene at the Daikin facility on Highway 20 after a suspicious item was found attached to the rail car.
The rail car originated from Mexico and traveled through Brownsville TX, Louisiana and Mississippi before its stop at the Daikin facility.
An employee noticed a breach in the seal of the car's dome and found the package. The employee then contacted Homeland Security as per protocol.
"Our procedures for safety were followed like they should have been," said Community Relations and General Affairs Manager Forrest Keith. "Instead of somebody handling it themselves, they backed away and said 'okay let's take the best route to resolving this issue.'"
Schools within a five-mile radius were evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
In addition, the director of the Decatur Public Library said their facility had closed due to the evacuations. The Coast Guard closed river traffic from Mallard Fox Industrial Park to the Highway 31 river bridge. Highway 20 was closed between Highway 67 and the Lawrence County line, as crews moved in to examine the item.
Evacuations were performed because, according to authorities, the rail car contains hydrogen fluoride, a liquid or gaseous chemical that, when dissolved in water, can become hydroflouric acid. The chemical could be hazardous if released into the atmosphere.
"The bomb squad folks safely removed the package from the rail car and they determined that it was not an explosive device, and then the crisis and the high stress was over with," said Keith.
TVA officials said plant operations were unaffected during the incident, but personnel were prepared to take action had the situation changed.
Keith said everything will go back to normal at the plant for Friday. The package is in police custody. They will test it for fingerprints. No arrests have been made.
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