217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

Maine officials unhappy with CPKC derailment cleanup

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has warned Canadian Pacific Kansas City to improve its cleanup actions at the site where a CPKC train derailed April 15.

In a letter to CPKC, the Maine DEP indicated it would take over the cleanup at the company’s expense if it did not meet the department’s standards in the process.

The department said CPKC did not follow its directions and spilled about 500 gallons of diesel fuel into the environment and nearby water in Somerset County. The train derailed north of Rockwood near Moosehead Lake, the state’s largest body of fresh water.

The derailment involved three locomotives and six rail cars that were carrying lumber and electrical wiring. The train also was carrying hazardous materials. The accident resulted in a forest fire and injured three people.

“While CPKC has made good-faith progress in cleaning up the site, the [Maine DEP] commission cited the railroad’s failure to: 1) empty the locomotive saddle tanks prior to removing the locomotive from the site, and 2) remove the two rail cars containing hazardous material further away from the site in a timely manner,” state officials said in a press release.

Asked to respond to the department’s letter, CPKC spokeswoman Doniele Carlson said in an email that the railroad’s crews have been working “in full cooperation” with Maine DEP. The company will “remain committed to the full restoration of the derailment site and full cleanup of the affected environment,” she said.

“Maine DEP personnel are present on the site daily and observed the assessment made by CPKC mechanical teams that the fuel tank was empty before the locomotive was moved,” Carlson said. “When the locomotive was righted, residue fuel leaked into the protected containment area previously set up around the locomotive.”

The remote, forested area combined with spring thaw has made the process challenging, she added.

In addition, Carlson said:

• Teams are using boom, absorbents and vac trucks to contain and clean up the released diesel and working to protect the surrounding environment;

• Contaminated soil and waste is being isolated for proper removal to authorized disposal facilities.

• Three locomotives and one rail lumber car remain at the site awaiting removal to clear the way for further environmental cleanup and restoration;

• Intermodal shipping containers carrying hazardous materials were involved in the derailment. No hazardous materials spilled as a result of the incident. All have been removed from the derailment site; and

• Shipping containers carrying drums of ethanol on one intermodal car were removed last weekend. The shipping containers with the drums of pentamethylheptane in a second car had previously been moved and staged safely away from the immediate derailment area and were taken away from the recovery site on April 20.