The first 20 cars, including all three locomotives, of a 77-car CSX freight train derailed around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday as it traveled south along the Hudson River at the Newburgh - New Windsor line.
Seven of the derailed cars contain hazardous materials. Four cars contain sulfuric acid; two cars contain sodium hydroxide; and one car contains aqueous bisulfites. The remaining derailed cars contain a variety of freight including food products, corn oil and bulk salt. A total of 38 cars carried freight and 39 were empty.
No hazardous materials leaked from the rail cars, said Orange County Fire Coordinator Vini Tankasali.
Diesel fuel from several of the locomotives’ fuel tanks leaked onto the ground. CSX has hazardous materials and environmental cleanup experts on site or en route to remediate the spilled fuel.
Three CSX maintenance employees, who were working in the area, were transported to area hospitals for treatment of what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries. Two crew members who were operating the train were not injured.
The train was traveling from Selkirk, New York to Waycross, Georgia.
Railroad spokesman Rob Doolittle said CSX will work “as quickly as safety allows to remove the derailed cars and restore the area of the derailment.”
All of the first responders on the scene worked well thanks to training and rills, Tankasali said.State Police is the lead agency investigating the derailment and the Federal Railway Administration is also involved.
“We actually did a drill in October along the same tracks, which was designed specifically around a rail incident and I think that helped greatly,” Tankasali said. “It was a drill run by Orange County Emergency Management. It involved a rail incident and that helped us prepare for an incident such as this.”
The West Shore rail line along the Hudson River has been a concern to authorities in recent years because of the number of tanker cars carrying Bakken crude oil.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district office is in Newburgh, said while the cause of the accident is unknown at this time, “we do know that outdated train cars barreling down the Hudson River carrying hazardous materials are literally a train wreck waiting to happen. We have to get smarter about how we transport crude oil, and invest in installing positive train control on all our trains – the longer we fail to prioritize investing in rail safety infrastructure and technology, the more innocent lives we put in jeopardy.”
This derailment comes on the same day as Schumer renewed his call for federal funding for safety upgrades at Metro-North crossings in the Hudson Valley.
“Our office is in close contact with FRA and local officials. Our thoughts are with those who were impacted by this derailment, and with the first responders currently on scene,” said Jason Kaplan, spokesman for Senator Charles Schumer. “Senator Schumer will work closely with FRA and other federal safety organizations to quickly get to the bottom of what caused this dangerous accident.”
The senator said $5 million in funding was approved six months ago to be used to upgrade rail crossings, but the money has yet to be released to the state.