Second Pan Am train derails in Maine

Posted Feb. 09, 2011, at 5:23 a.m.

BELGRADE, Maine — A single Pan Am Railways locomotive jumped the track late Saturday.

It was Pan Am’s second shoreland-area derailment in less than 24 hours in central Maine. No one was injured.

The second derailment involved a locomotive returning to Waterville after having assisted cleanup of a 20-car Pan Am derailment earlier Saturday in Readfield.

The Readfield derailment occurred at 4 a.m. Saturday near Thorp Shores Road as a 71-car train loaded with freight and operated by a two-person crew left the tracks en route from Hermon to East Deerfield, Mass.

The cause of the Readfield incident is unknown. The Massachusetts-based railroad is investigating, Pan Am Railways Vice President Cynthia Scarano said.

In the latest derailment, Scarano said an engineer called in about 11 p.m. Saturday to report his train had slid off the tracks.

She said there were no injuries and blamed the incident on this past weekend’s snow and rain.

“There was quite a bit of a washout, with a lot of mud and ice over the rails,” Scarano said Monday. “If it’s strong enough because of the weather we’ve had, it will lift a locomotive up.”

The accident occurred near a private crossing on Cathedral Pines Road in Belgrade.

Cathedral Pines Road and Thorp Shores Road are both year-round, private, shoreland-access roads crossed by railroad tracks.

Scarano said workers were still in Readfield on Monday, and that she hoped to have the track cleared and running by Monday evening.

The rail line cuts a swath through some of central Maine’s most valued inland waterways, including heavily used Maranacook and Messalonskee lakes.

There were no hazardous chemicals on the derailed cars in Readfield. The train carried paper, lumber and scrap cars.

Pan Am coordinates hazardous-materials cleanups with local officials. “There’s a whole book with the things you have to follow,” Scarano said.

“We just had a table top activity a few months ago with this exact thing,” Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency Director Richard “Beau” Beausoleil said. “We simulated and went over plans on how (local emergency managers) would deal with that and coordinating with us to bring in the resources they need.”

Beausoleil said his office was notified when the Readfield derailment occurred.

“They called to say there was no hazmat,” he said. “If there had been, we would have activated our Hazardous Materials Response Team. There’s one out of Waterville, and one in Augusta and another one in Skowhegan that we share with Somerset County.”

The agency also has an Incident Management Assistance Team that would be dispatched if a chemical spill was bigger than local resources could handle.

“We have stuff like that happen quite often, not necessarily trains,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a semi truck or business spill. The last train incident was in Waterville at their depot. They had a train derail and it punched a hole in the fuel tank. That was a few months ago. Any time there’s a chemical incident in the county, our agency is involved.”

Copyright (c) 2011, Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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