(Ripley, New York – March 1, 2016)
Dozens of residents of homes were evacuated into the cold, snowy western New York night Tuesday at about 9:30 P.M., EST when 16 cars of an eastbound Norfolk Southern freight train, three of which contained highly flammable, hazardous materials derailed. Railroad officials scrambled to explain the circumstances surrounding the Ripley, NY situation which was far from resolved by late Wednesday.
Complicating the derailment, which not only shut down a Norfolk Southern double-tracked main line that carries a daily average of 18 trains but also a parallel CSX rail line where its two main tracks transport 52 trains, including numerous Amtrak passenger trains, was the fact that two of the cars, which overturned, were tankers carrying the gasoline additive ethanol. Another tank car, which was carrying highly explosive propane, remained upright, but off the rails. The two ethanol cars were believed to be leaking, and at least 30 residents were still being sheltered in an elementary school Wednesday. In all, 50 homes were included in the initial evacuation order.
Ripley is on Lake Erie about 70 miles southeast of Buffalo, NY, and Amtrak was being forced to ferry passengers of several key intercity trains by bus Paround the site of the as-yet unexplained causal crash.