Maine DEP Warns Railroad to Clean Up Environment Surrounding Train Derailment Site to Department's Satisfaction

April 21, 2023

As cleanup efforts continue following the derailment of a freight train in Sandwich Academy Grant Township in Somerset County, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (Maine DEP) has sent a letter to Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) warning the railroad that if it does not take better action to clean up the site of the last weekend's derailment to the satisfaction of the Department, then the Department will take over the clean-up effort at CPKCs expense. Yesterdays letter from Maine DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim came after CPKC "failed to meet Department expectations regarding timing and response of clean-up activities in order to effectively mitigate impacts to the environment and public health" and after directives that the Department has issued in order to meet the Commissioners satisfaction have not been attended to or completed.

While CPKC has made good-faith progress in cleaning up the site, the Commissioner cited the railroads failure to: 1) empty the locomotive saddle tanks prior to removing the locomotive from the site, and 2) remove the two rail cars containing hazardous material further away from the site in a timely manner.

CPKC had removed derailed train cars containing hazardous materials from the immediate site of the wreckage, the train cars and materials remained to the side of the site, where they were stable. CPKC facilitated the removal of the railcars completely away from the site late yesterday afternoon.

Secondly, despite directives from Maine DEP to drain saddle tanks containing diesel fuel on the locomotives before removing them, CPKC failed to do so and proceeded to remove a locomotive, which in turn led to a substantial amount of diesel fuel to spill into the surrounding environment. It is not known precisely how much diesel spilled, but Maine DEP estimates 500 gallons.

That spill saturated the soil, overcame local protective measures, such as booms, that were in the local waterway and migrated to Little Brassua Lake where sheening was significant for a brief time, though protective measures at the lake interface were successful in gathering the recoverable amounts of fuel. Under DEPs direction, a robust underflow dam was created as a result of the spill and Maine DEP staff is consulting with CPKC to construct another underflow dam downstream of the one constructed yesterday to better secure the site.

Earlier this week - prior to yesterdays spill biologists from the Department of Inland Fisheries (MDIFW) and Wildlife visited the derailment site to evaluate the impact on fish and wildlife species in the area. The evaluation revealed no immediate impacts to fish or wildlife in the area. The series of booms surrounding the crash site, as well as another series of booms downstream at the mouth of the stream appeared to be working effectively. MDIFW staff, however, plan another visit next week to monitor progress on the cleanup and again assess impacts to fish, wildlife and their habitats.

Any remaining fire debris is scheduled to be removed from the stream today and additional environmental staff and a vacuum truck has been hired through the weekend. CPKC is also working with Maine DEP to properly dispose of all the contaminated materials. DEP HazMat response staff will remain onsite through the weekend as cleanup continues and will assist CPKC with developing a plan to remediate the oil-contaminated soil at the derailment site.

The Commissioners letter to CKPC

For additional information, contact: David R. Madore, Deputy Commissioner