Railroad Identifies Preliminary Cause of Derailment

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Canadian National officials say an overheated axle may to blame for Thursday night's 15-car train derailment in Potterville.

It started shortly after 9 p.m.

Fifteen cars on a 142-car Canadian National freight train run off the track along Main Street in Potterville. As Gina Carter leaves a downtown restaurant, she sees a cloud of smoke rolling down the street.

"I said, just another train derailment, joking," Carter said Thursday night.

But this was another train derailment. Four years ago to the month, another Canadian National train derailed in Potterville.

"The whole town had to be evacuated. 2,400 people," Eaton Co. Sheriff Mike Raines said Thursday night.

This one now appears much less serious. Thursday night, law enforcement, medical personnel and train company officials rush to the scene. No one is evacuated, some streets are closed. They determine one of the 14 cars contains a hazardous substance.

Later, the hazardous material is identified as "methyl acetylene propadiene" or MAPP -- liquefied gas used in welding according to the journal of forensic science.

"Luckily there was no hazardous material that leaked," Eaton Co. Undersheriff Fred McPhail said Friday.

Then early Friday morning, around 2:30: Train crews begin removing the wheels from wrecked cars and uprighting others.

At roughly 7 a.m., contractors begin lifting the car containing liquefied gas back onto the tracks, as hazardous material and emergency response teams wait and watch.

"We just want to be on the safe side if something does happen," Windsor Township Emergency Services Chief Chuck Cribley said Tuesday.

By 8 a.m., the hazardous materials tanker is removed from the scene and the haz mat teams have moved out.

"It's been a fairly fast cleanup. Certainly nothing like the previous derailment," Cribley said Tuesday.

"The city should be back to normal," McPhail said.

One sign of normalcy? New tracks laid down in the hopes that trains will be able to pass through Potterville shortly.


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