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Train carrying hazardous materials derails in Maine

Train hauling hazardous materials derails
Train carrying hazardous materials derails in Maine 00:14

A freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed and caught fire Saturday morning near Rockwood, Maine, officials said. However, none of the hazardous materials aboard caught fire, according to railroad officials and state authorities.  

A spokesperson for Canadian Pacific Kansas City Limited (CPKC) told CBS News in a statement that the train derailed at about 8:30 a.m. Eastern time due to a "track washout" in a rural wooded area about 15 miles east of the town of Jackman. A "track washout" often happens after heavy rain and washes away ballast and roadway under the track. 

A "build-up of melting ice and debris" may have caused the washout, the Maine Forest Service (MFS) said in a news release.

The derailment sparked a small forest fire that was "contained," MFS said, adding that three rail employees were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Rockwood Fire and Rescue posted a photo of the derailment Saturday on its Facebook page and advised residents "to stay clear!"

The CPKC spokesperson said there were "no evacuations and no threat to public safety." 

Maine Gov. Janet Mills tweeted that she had been briefed on the incident and that "officials on site indicate that there is no threat to public health or safety."

Train carrying hazardous materials derails in Maine
A train derailed in Rockwood, Maine. April 15, 2023.  Rockwood Fire & Rescue

Three locomotives and six rail cars carrying lumber and electrical wiring derailed, but none of the cars carrying hazardous materials derailed, officials from both agencies said. The type of hazardous materials being carried by the train was not immediately provided. 

"We are coordinating with local first responders who are on scene," CPKC said. "Our emergency response teams and hazardous materials experts have responded and continue to conduct a full assessment of the situation."

Rockwood is in the north-central part of the state in a mostly rural area. It's near Moosehead Lake, one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the state.

The derailment is the latest one to plague the rail industry. Federal regulators and members of Congress are urging railroads to do more to prevent derailments after recent fiery wrecks involving hazardous chemicals in Ohio and Minnesota prompted evacuations.

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