A train derailment leads to precautionary evacuations in Pennsylvania

Jul 17, 2023, 9:27 AM

(CNN) — Emergency crews are investigating a train derailment in southeast Pennsylvania, the Whit...

Barren Hill Fire Police block a local intersection after a train derailment on Monday morning, July 17, 2023. (Alexandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(Alexandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(CNN) — Emergency crews are investigating a train derailment in southeast Pennsylvania, the Whitemarsh Township manager said.

The wreck happened Monday morning in Plymouth Meeting, which has about 7,500 residents 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia. About 16 of the train’s 40 cars derailed around 4:50 a.m., according to the train’s owner, CSX.

“While preliminary reports indicate that one car transporting hazardous material was involved in the incident, there is no indication of any leaks or spills of hazardous materials and there are no injuries to the crew of the train,” CSX said in a written statement.

“The local fire department responded and declared an evacuation of just over a dozen homes out of an abundance of caution.”

Some businesses close to the scene in Montgomery County were also evacuated as a precaution, Whitemarsh Township officials said in a statement.

“There are no reported injuries and no known hazard to the public,” the township said. “It is not believed that further evacuations will be needed, but we will evaluate as we know more.”

The apparent cause of the derailment was weather-related issues, CSX representative Sheriee Bowman told CNN.

While CSX owns the train, Norfolk Southern told CNN it owns the track where the derailment happened.

Norfolk Southern been under heightened scrutiny since the derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.

The February 3 wreck sparked a dayslong inferno, spewed poisonous fumes into the air and killed thousands of fish. Residents and investigators who responded to the scene have reported an array of ailments since the derailment, but the exact causes of many of the illnesses have been difficult to determine.

Federal Rail Administration data provided to CNN in February showed 149 incidents in which hazardous materials were released from moving trains over the past decade. But the federal data is self-reported by train companies, so it is difficult to verify whether the data is complete.

While there was no indication any residents near the Pennsylvania derailment were in any danger Monday, Gov. Josh Shapiro said he is monitoring the situation.

“Thank you to the residents taking precautions at the direction of local authorities. I urge you to continue following their instruction,” Shapiro tweeted.

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A train derailment leads to precautionary evacuations in Pennsylvania