Massachusetts train derails, no hazardous cargo reported

Mar 23, 2023, 9:59 AM | Updated: 1:38 pm

AYER, Mass. (AP) — Five freight train cars derailed in Massachusetts on Thursday, but no hazardous materials were being hauled and there were no reports of injuries, according to authorities.

The freight cars that toppled over at about 11:30 a.m. were carrying sealed containers of trash and recycling material, the Ayer Fire Department said in a social media post. Each car was carrying double stacked containers for a total of 10 containers, according to the state emergency management agency.

A woman walking in the area first noticed the toppled railcars and called authorities, Fire Chief Tim Johnston said at the scene.

“For an unknown cause the two double-stacked containers on one of the trains toppled over and it seems to have ended up pulling four others over,” he said.

The fire department called railway operator CSX and utility National Grid to the scene and officials took precautions to protect a nearby waterway.

The train was not moving at the time of the derailment, assistant town manager Carly Antonellis said.

“There were no reported injuries to the crew, no hazardous materials involved, no leaks or spills of any freight and no impacts to the environment,” CSX said in a statement. “CSX personnel are responding as the incident occurred on a line jointly owned with Norfolk Southern.”

Broadcast video appeared to show Norfolk Southern engines hauling the railcars, but Norfolk Southern in a statement said the train was not theirs and it is common in the industry for one railroad’s equipment to be operated over the network by the crews of another carrier.

Norfolk Southern is the operator at the center of a fiery derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in early February in which abut 50 cars derailed, spilling hazardous materials and forcing evacuations of residents.

The cause of Thursday’s derailment remains under investigation, the CSX statement said.

The fire department advised people to avoid the area.

Ayer is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Boston.

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Massachusetts train derails, no hazardous cargo reported