CSX Train Derailment Evacuees Wait to Return to Painesville, as Fire Crews Work to Extinguish Burning WreckageOct 12, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
More than 500 families are still out of their homes following Wednesday’s CSX train derailment near Painesville, Ohio. Several cars involved in the accident are still burning, and fire officials say the half-mile area around the site that was evacuated following the CSX train derailment will not be safe until all of the flames are extinguished.
On Wednesday, a 112-car CSX freight train was traveling from Collingwood, Ohio to Buffalo, New York when it derailed outside of Painesville, about 30 miles from Cleveland. Witnesses to the train derailment reported hearing a loud explosion, and seeing a bright, white flash. The accident resulted in a massive fire, which sent flames shooting at least 30 feet into the air. People miles from the derailment said that plumes of thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the site.
Fire crews responding to the CSX train derailment where scheduled to start using foam and other fire retardant chemicals to fight the flames today. The work of extinguishing the fire had been put on hold in order to allow ethanol in one of the derailed CSX tankers to evaporate. Since the CSX train derailed, the 250 fire fighters at the scene had been working around the clock to insure that flames from burning cars did not reach a tanker filled with liquid petroleum. Heavy rain yesterday helped that effort, making it possible for crews to begin working on the fire itself this morning. CSX has been given permission by federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to start removing derailed cars from the accident site. It could take several days to fully extinguish the fire and remove what is left of the train from the tracks.
About 565 families are still unable to go back to their homes, and officials in Painesville say they will have to wait until the fire is out. Wednesday’s CSX train derailment resulted in the evacuation of a half-mile area around the accident. About 300 homes in the Heisley Park neighborhood and apartments on Brookstone, Cobblestone and Forest Brook Drives are still off limits, as are portions of Ohio Route 44. The evacuation order will remain in effect for at least another day, and CSX is covering the cost of hotel rooms for evacuees.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to monitor the air and water quality around the site. Of the dozen cars that were burning after the derailment, eight contained hazardous materials including ethanol, liquid petroleum and phtalic anhydride, a chemical used in making plastics. While none of those chemicals are toxic inhalants, there was concern that alcohol in some of the tankers could run off into a nearby stream, killing fish and wildlife. The stream, Blackbrook Creek, drains into Mentor Marsh, a federally designated natural landmark. EPA workers have built earthen dams to help contain any toxins leaking from the derailed CSX train, and to prevent polluted water from entering the creek.
The cause of the CSX train derailment is still under investigation. NTSB investigators will be reviewing the train’s event record to see if broken tracks or damaged train parts played a role in the derailment. It is not known when a final report on the CSX train derailment will be available.