Watch CBS News

Norfolk Southern train derails near Montgomery Crossing in New Castle

Crews cleaning up after train derailment in New Castle
Crews cleaning up after train derailment in New Castle 03:10

NEW CASTLE (KDKA) -- Crews are working to upright several Norfolk Southern railcars that left the track on Wednesday night in New Castle, Lawrence County.

Public safety officials said there was no threat to the public from hazardous materials and there was no need for evacuations or sheltering.

New Castle Fire Chief Mike Kobbe knew someday he'd get a call for a train derailment in his town. Around 11 p.m. Wednesday, a Norfolk Southern train derailed at the Montgomery Avenue railroad crossing near Route 108 in the city's Mahoningtown neighborhood.

Chief Kobbe said the safety of neighbors was the first thing that went through his mind when he was alerted.

"Damage control, how much are we going to have to evacuate, is it going to be as bad as the most recent one, a lot of things as far as public safety was my priority and then everything else after," said Chief Kobbe.

He said firefighters were initially called for a derailment with sparks and a potential fire. They discovered nine derailed cars and no fire, some on the railroad bridge over the Mahoning River. 

He said the materials on board some of the derailed cars were soybeans and paraffin wax, which were not a concern.

"Once we evaluated the cars, we found there were no hazardous materials from the cars that derailed. There was one car that was leaking but it was carrying soybeans. That did discharge somewhat into the river," Chief Kobbe said.

One derailed car was hauling paraffin wax, that is used to make candles. Chief Kobbe said it's not hazardous and it didn't leak.

A statement from Norfolk Southern said, "There were no hazardous materials involved, and no injuries have been reported. Our crews responded immediately and are actively working at the site."

This comes amid increased attention to railroad safety after the fiery Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which is about 15 miles from this week's derailment in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

"In light of recent events with the train derailments in our area, we've actually taken courses to prepare ourselves for this kind of event and we've always said it's not a matter of if it's going to happen in our area, because we have a lot of rail lines, it's a matter of when," Chief Kobbe said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was monitoring the derailment site, which closed a main artery for heavy truck traffic.

"They are there in the event that they have a hydraulic line or fuel leak from one of the vehicles that's actually doing the recovery, so they are more of a preventative measure to make sure they don't leak anything into the river," said Chief Kobbe.

The possibility of trains going off the tracks has been a concern his entire career.

"We've always had that concern because with the materials that are transported throughout the county from Beaver County, from Allegheny County, heading north up to Erie County or even Buffalo, New York. We've always had the knowledge that that material was passing through our county, so we've always had it on the burner, it's just never happened to us but we expected it to at some point," he said.

A statement released by the state Department of Environmental Protection said in part, "There are no immediate health concerns, and DEP will continue monitoring for downstream impacts from the spill including any effects to fish and other aquatic life. 

"There were no hazardous materials on board. Product was released from two cars carrying non-toxic materials – paraffin wax, Barium Sulfate and granular soybeans – and a portion of the granular soybeans entered the Mahoning River. DEP is monitoring the situation and overseeing crews working to contain any further impact. 

"Norfolk Southern and its contractors have begun clearing cars unaffected during the derailment and removing any remaining contents from those cars impacted. DEP will remain on site overseeing and assisting in the cleanup, and will hold Norfolk Southern accountable as necessary."

No word on what caused the derailment yet, as Norfolk Southern is investigating thoroughly.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.