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Ripley residents return after train derailment evacuation

March 10, 2016
By Jimmy McCarthy ( , Westfield Republican

RIPLEY - Displaced residents returned to their Ripley homes March 3 after a train derailment the eveningof March 1 forced an evacuation.

An investigation continues into the Norfolk Southern train derailment that occurred between Shaver and South State streets. A cause was not determined as investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and New York State Department of Transportation remained at the scene. FRA officials acknowledged uncertainty over the time frame of the investigation.

"The length of each investigation varies," said an FRA official.

Julius Leone, county emergency services director, said residents were allowed back in their homes after 5 a.m. March 3. Around 50 homes were evacuated after two ruptured cars spilled ethanol. A car carrying propane tipped on its side as the 34-car train derailed. However, no propane was found to be leaking. Approximately 100 individuals were displaced from their homes.

Leone said crews successfully transferred ethanol and propane out of the cars safely. However, Leone said cleanup at the scene will continue for a while.

"The cars are still there, but they're cleared away from the track to give crews the ability to repair it so they can return train traffic," Leone said. "That's their first priority. Then they'll start removing the cars."

State Street reopened March 3, but Ripley Town Supervisor Doug Bowen said Shaver Street would be closed for two to four days to fix broken crossing arms and a control box. Bowen said work continues to permanently replace the track destroyed during the derailment.

"The train tracks got wiped out pretty bad," he said.

FRA officials declined to comment on the extent of the damage due to the ongoing investigation.

Natalie Whiteman, county water resource specialist, said no ethanol was detected in the public water supply or area streams.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were at the scene monitoring and surveying area waters.

"The public water supply wasn't in danger at any point," she said. "The source of water is a spring stream system that is up on the hill south of Ripley."

Rail crews remained at the scene along with state and federal regulatory agencies. County Emergency Services personnel also stayed at the scene.



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