Pan Am train goes off the rails in Bucksport

Posted March 13, 2013, at 1:09 p.m.
Last modified March 14, 2013, at 4:26 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — A Pan Am Railways train derailed sometime Tuesday just south of the Verso Paper mill.

Four cars in a 13-car freight train went off the tracks at a point where two lines meet behind Bucksport House of Pizza on Route 15. Three of the cars slipped off the rails and skidded in the mud for several yards, while another tipped over about 45 degrees. Damage on Wednesday morning appeared minimal.

Pan Am workers arrived Wednesday morning with heavy equipment in an effort to get the cars back on the rails. The workers directed all questions to Pan Am spokeswoman Cynthia Scarano, who was unreachable through early afternoon.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is not investigating the derailment and that it generally only looks into train accidents involving fatalities or environmental hazards. It did not appear that anyone was injured or that any cargo was lost in the derailment.

Officials in Bucksport knew little about the derailment. Efforts to contact officials at Verso also have been unsuccessful.

According to reports from the Federal Railroad Administration, Pan Am Railways has had 12 reported derailments in Maine in the past five years, from 2008 through the end of 2012. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway also reported 12 derailments in that time period.

All but one of Pan Am’s derailments in Maine during that five-year period happened at low speeds, between 2 and 12 mph, at or near loading or transfer areas, according to the reports.

Not all derailments are reported to the railroad administration, according to FRA spokesman Rob Kulat.

The derailment is at least the third in the past year on Pan Am rails near the Bucksport mill. In July 2012, a boxcar overturned after a derailment at the intersection of Route 15. Two months earlier, a Pan Am Railways train derailed near the Bucksport-Orrington town line, spilling 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of nonhazardous papermaking chemicals into the Penobscot River.

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

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