Police & Fire

Maine regulators tell railway to control erosion near crash site

By Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News Staff

Maine regulators said the railway company cleaning up the site of a train derailment near Rockwood violated environmental law by causing soil and rocks to slide into nearby waterways.

The Maine Forest Service and Land Use Planning Commission, which is an administrator in the Unorganized Territory, issued a joint notice of violation to the railway on April 27 with help from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which is overseeing the cleanup of the crash that happened two weeks ago.

Staff from the organizations visited the derailment site earlier this week and observed that access roads had considerable sedimentation. DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim also issued a letter instructing CPKC to start erosion control measures immediately in areas identified by the two regulators.

“A significant amount of sediment was released into Maine’s waters in violation of the Pollution Control Law because of the use of heavy construction equipment to access the site for remediation,” the DEP said in a release on April 28. “Culverts were crushed and dirt has been shifted in and around a number of streams.”

The DEP also recommended that CPKC avoid using heavy equipment on forest management roads except for one until the heavy rain expected early next week ends and the roads can be stabilized.

The move follows a warning the week prior from Loyzim that CPKC needed to demonstrate more urgency and diligence in cleaning up after a freight train derailed on April 15 in Sandwich Academy Grant.

Leaking fuel from the three locomotives that derailed is saturating soil and leaking into nearby waterways. Those engines that were to be dismantled this week to try to contain environmental damage still are at the derailment site, the DEP said.

The work focused on replacing saturated materials that absorb fuels and removing oil-contaminated and charred debris. The DEP said a significant portion was cleared. On April 22 a vacuum track removed other liquids close to the track.

CPKC has about 60 emergency spill responders and environmental professionals on site for the cleanup and to monitor soil and surface water quality. The railway did not return a request for comment on its schedule for cleanup.

On April 27 specialized railway equipment to load and transport waste was brought to the site so the railway can remove oil-saturated materials with less chance for the oil to leak back into the environment during transportation, the DEP said.

As April 27 four lumber cars had been disassembled and are in the process of being trucked away, but the locomotives still need to be scrapped.

The DEP said it worked with the railway to try to prevent other spills like the one that happened last week. The DEP and railway inspected the damaged locomotives and railcars prior to disassembling them.

The railway reported to the DEP that this week it has recovered 32,900 absorbent pads, 15,424 feet of absorbent boom and 3,150 gallons of oil, water and diesel using vacuum trucks.

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