Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 4, 2013

Train derailment leaves five cars off the track

WAYNE TOWNSHIP — Nine area emergency response teams were called to a Friday afternoon train derailment, answering a call to what was at first being described as a possible hazardous spill.

Cochranton Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched at 4:35 p.m. to the site of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad train derailment one mile north of the New Lebanon Crossing near the Crawford-Mercer county line, according to a news release from Allen W. Clark, director of Crawford County Emergency Management Agency.

The Cochranton department found five cars derailed, four of them carrying non-hazardous plastic or steel materials, and one car containing isobutylene, a flammable gas.

There was no release or spill from any of the cars, and no injuries reported for the train crew or emergency responders, Clark said.

The five derailed cars, of approximately 10 units in the full train, fell onto their sides after a trackside bank apparently gave out, according to a responder who was at the scene.

Assisting Cochranton VFD and Ambulance Service was West Mead 2, West Mead 1 and Utica Volunteer fire departments, Crawford County and Mercer County Emergency Management Agencies, Crawford County Hazardous Materials Response Team, STATMedevac, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Both Crawford and Mercer County 911 communication centers assisted in dispatching resources to the scene. By 6:30 p.m. most departments were back in service, Clark said.

Isobutylene is easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames capable of forming explosive mixtures with air. Vapors are initially heavier than air and can spread along the ground, possibly causing dizziness or asphyxiation without warning.

The railroad company will be working to repair the tracks and upright the overturned tanker cars, which could take up to a week, Clark said.  Until then that section of the railroad will be closed.

The train’s destination was not immediately reported, Clark said. It was headed south from Crawford County and just entering Mercer County at the time of the derailment, in a heavily wooded area that presented a difficult access for responders.

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