Train's cargo blown into bay

DANBURY TWP. A Norfolk Southern train derailed near Edison Bridge Wednesday morning after high winds
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

DANBURY TWP.

A Norfolk Southern train derailed near Edison Bridge Wednesday morning after high winds tipped several rail containers into Sandusky Bay.

No was injured, and officials say the eight to 12 containers that fell were empty. No hazardous materials were released.

One rail car contained corrosive liquid, but it was not one of the cars that derailed, said Mike Drusbacky, deputy director of the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Toledo, the Emergency Management agencies from Erie and Ottawa counties and Norfolk Southern were all involved in the investigation.

"All indications are that it was high winds," said Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband. A similar train derailment occurred about five years ago, he said.

The accident occurred at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday when the train was crossing Sandusky Bay from Danbury Township to Bay View.

Wind gusts were so strong Wednesday morning that some people had trouble staying upright. Between 4-5 a.m. the highest wind gust recorded was about 58 mph, according to www.sanduskyregister.com/weather.

"That's a decent wind gust," said AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Pigott. He did not categorize it as severe weather.

Some of the train's cars were "doubled stacked," said Lt. Christy Casey, spokeswoman for the U.S Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit. It was unclear whether this contributed to the derailment.

The two-sided rail track opened up on one side at about 9:30 a.m., but the temporary closing delayed three Amtrak passenger trains.

The Lake Shore Limited trains heading toward Chicago and New York were both delayed five hours, and the Capitol Limited, bound for Chicago, was delayed for six hours, said Marc Magliari, manager of media relations for Amtrak.

Husband said reports of downed rail signals were unfounded.

Crews were busy clearing the wreckage and containers from the water.

R.J. Corman Derailment Service and Hulcher Professional Services, Inc. were on hand to remove the containers. Casey said they would likely use a barge and lifting equipment to remove them from the water. She said the recovery effort was not expected to impede traffic on Edison Bridge.

It was unclear how long it could take to remove all the containers from the bay.

Danbury North Road was open Wednesday, but travelers were discouraged from entering the road because of an influx of construction crews, Danbury police Det. Mark Meisler said.

It was the second area train derailment in about three months. On Oct. 29 a Norfolk Southern train derailed at 3:26 p.m. at the Venice Road crossing in Sandusky.

No one was hurt, but a number of trailers containing toilet paper and paper towels tipped over on their sides. The crossing was closed for much of the next day while crews replaced the crossing's gates and signals, which were knocked over.

A Norfolk Southern investigation found that an air hose controlling the train's brakes "uncoupled or burst."

Erie County had nine train incidents in 2007, up from seven in 2006 and five in 2005.