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Merrimack Valley

July 12, 2014

No injuries in train derailment

LAWRENCE — A freight train jumped the tracks near South Union Street just north of the Andover line yesterday morning. No injuries were reported.

The freight containers were empty and nothing hazardous spilled, a city fire official said.

At about 11 a.m., the fire department received a report of a train derailment near 650 S. Union St. A Pan Am Railways locomotive with seven hopper cars derailed near the South Union Street bridge and the railroad yard at Andover Street.

Normally loaded with plastic materials, the hopper cars were empty, Deputy Fire Chief John McInnis said.

Firefighters were concerned about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel the locomotive was carrying, but that did not cause any issues.

A 23,000-volt power line runs along the tracks, and McInnis said National Grid was notified after it appeared some of the poles could be in jeopardy.

National Grid crews did respond, and spokesman Jake Navarro said the derailment did not cause an outage. “There are National Grid power lines near the train’s location, so we sent crews there just to ensure that the area is safe and to stand by in case anything additional (was) needed,” he said.

McInnis said firefighters cleared the area about 90 minutes later. Within the next 24 hours, a crane, operated by Pan Am, will have to get the locomotive and hopper cars back on the tracks, McInnis said.

The derailment did not affect traffic. However, the MBTA commuter rail was halted in the area during the incident and re-opened to commuter rail traffic early yesterday afternoon, McInnis said.

He added that Pan Am did not notify city police or firefighters of the derailment. A passerby did.

Officials at Pan Am could not be reached yesterday.

Richard Larochelle and Michael Manuel, employees at the Penske garage across South Union Street, said they heard train cars banging between 8 and 9 a.m. but did not think anything of it.

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