No spill as 4 tankers derail in Hermon

Posted May 19, 2009, at 3:56 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Four Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway tankers containing sulfuric acid and ethanol derailed Monday morning but did not cause a spill, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

“It’s not dangerous,” John W. Schultz, transportation vice president for the railroad, said from the scene on Logistics Drive while crews attempted to get one of the railcars back on the track. “There is no leak, no product loss.”

The cars derailed near around 8 a.m. Monday while the train was headed to Searsport, he said. Three of the tankers contained sulfuric acid and one contained ethanol.

Schultz said the cause of the derailment was under investigation.

Two of the tankers were being transferred onto trucks for transport, an order placed by the customer, Schultz said, and the two others were expected to be fixed by Wednesday night.

Hermon Fire Chief Larry Willis and a crew of two were at the scene with a firetruck and laid hose as a preventative measure.

About noon Tuesday, two men dressed in bright red jumpsuits with hard hats with visors could be seen walking around the scene, taking photos, while a crew of six worked on the massive rear steel wheels of the tanker carrying ethanol.

A truck and trailer from Specialized Professional Services Inc., a hazardous materials firm, arrived in Hermon about 1 p.m. to assist with transferring the materials.

According to the diamond National Fire Protection Association markings on the tankers, the ethanol, which has a health hazard code of three and was marked with a red triangle, is flammable, poisonous and more volatile than the sulfuric acid, which has a black and white health hazard code of eight, which means it is corrosive.

A representative of Canutech, the Canadian Transportation Emergency Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, said each type of chemical has a specific safety precaution attached to it.

“It depends on the materials,” said Nicolas Cadotte of Canutech, which helps emergency response personnel handle emergencies involving dangerous goods.

The fact that the area was not blocked off to the public indicated that there was a low health hazard, he said. Each Canadian tanker that carries hazardous chemicals, including the derailed ones in Hermon, has the Canutech number listed on its sides.

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