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PA train derailment today: Precautionary evacuation order lifted in Whitemarsh Township

Families back home after train derailment in Montgomery County
Families back home after train derailment in Montgomery County 02:08

WHITEMARSH TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) -- Homes were evacuated for precautionary reasons in Whitemarsh Township early Monday morning after a 40-car CSX freight train derailed near Stenton Avenue and Joshua Road, police said.

The train derailment happened just before 5 a.m. in Montgomery County, according to police. Officials said 15 cars came off the Northern Southern tracks.


One of the cars was transporting Tetrachloroethylene, a hazardous material, but there are no indications of any leaks or spills, CSX said. Hazmat crews were called in but police said there is no known threat to the public as the car carrying the Tetrachloroethylene, an industrial greaser used in dry cleaning and other various uses, is intact, officials added. 

"At this time, there is not a concern for any environmental releases," Ben Russell, with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said. "We are working with both the railroad and the quarry below just in the chance that something could occur during the cleanup chance. But at this point in time, everything is contained that is a hazardous material."

The Department of Environmental Protection said its teams will be on hand to oversee the operation, particularly focusing on the car carrying Tetrachloroethylene. 

Homes in the 5000 block of Camburn Road were precautionarily evacuated. Police said they don't believe any more evacuations will be required and it has since been lifted.

A mother and daughter who were among the evacuees spoke with CBS News Philadelphia about what it was like being told to leave their home at the crack of dawn.

"Alarming. It all happened really fast. We all don't have shoes on," Mallory Michener said. "Didn't really know how long we would be or how serious it was until we pulled out into the neighborhood and saw all the lights, helicopters, fire trucks, etc."

"Right as you hear the door at 5:30 in the morning, it's a little shocking," Michener's daughter said. "And yeah, it was just scary. First thought for me always goes to my family and friends."

Officials said they found some silicone pellets leaking from the cars but they don't pose any danger to the public

No injuries have been reported.

Northern Southern, which owns the line, will take the lead on reopening the tracks after the derailment.

"It is their intention, due to the commerce on this line, to try to have the line back up and running, I think the last check was by Wednesday evening," Christopher Ward, the chief of the Whitemarsh Police Department, said.   

CSX said the preliminary investigation indicates the derailment was weather related. The investigation remains ongoing.

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