GILEAD — State police and Bethel and
Gilead fire departments are at the scene of a train derailment at or
near the Gilead – Shelburne, N. H. line.

According to initial
radio information, the train was carrying emptied chemical cars when it
derailed at about 1:54 p.m.

Due to remnant flammable chemicals
leaking from one tanker, police and fire officials having closed Route 2, are rerouting its traffic onto North Road, which parallels Route 2 and is located north of the Androscoggin River.

There were no initial reports of
injuries.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection was contacted and is sending an official to the scene from Scarborough.

By 3:15 p.m., a NewPage Inc. hazardous materials official and a few Rumford firefighters were headed to the scene to help.

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A train derailed in Gilead on Saturday afternoon, forcing evacuations due to leaking hazardous materials. A Bethel firefighter 6 miles from the accident directs traffic to Fryeburg and Upton after state police in Maine and New Hampshire closed Route 2.

Maine Turnpike State Trooper Lee Vanadestine, at left center, directs backed-up Route 2 traffic onto Route 5 on Saturday afternoon in Bethel, 6 miles from a train derailment in Gilead on the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad.

A Bethel firefighter gives a Route 2 driver her options on Saturday afternoon in Bethel, 6 miles from the scene of a train derailment in Gilead. State police in Maine and New Hampshire shut down Route 2 at about 2 p.m. Due to evacuations in Gilead, drivers were being rerouted toward Fryeburg on Route 5 and back to Newry on Route 26 to go through Upton and down Route 16 to Errol, N.H.

GILEAD — A hazardous and flammable chemical leaking from a ruptured tanker at a train derailment Saturday afternoon forced the evacuation of a nearby camp, state police said. No one was injured.

At about 1:50 p.m., 17 cars of an 82-car St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad train
traveling from Auburn to Quebec derailed near the crossing on
Route 2,
a quarter mile west of the intersection with Route
113,
Maine State Police Sgt. Joe Mills said late Saturday night.

Mills said the 17
cars that derailed contained hazardous materials residue of sulfuric and
hydrochloric acids, denatured alcohol or liquid petroleum, but only one car was
punctured. That one contained denatured alcohol residue
only, he said.

“There was only
vapor coming out; nothing was running out or leaking onto the ground,” Mills
said.
“We were very
fortunate that these cars were empty, because it would have been a great deal
worse if they weren’t.”

Two railroad crewmen — who weren’t injured — were taken to a Lewiston hospital for
routine drug and alcohol testing, which is required by federal regulation, Mills
said.

Police had not determined a cause for the accident, Mills said, adding that the entire train did not overturn. Some cars
landed on their sides and some jackknifed.

The accident is
being investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration, which sent a
representative to the scene.
A hazardous
materials team from the NewPage paper mill in Rumford responded to the scene to
determine whether the chemical leak was dangerous.

“They didn’t find
any cause for concern,” he said.

Although state
police prevented people from driving west on Route 2 to get to New Hampshire or
Gilead, Mills said it was possible for people to drive Route 2 to Route 113,
where there was a roadblock in place a half-mile from the accident scene.

The derailment cleanup is expected to take a few weeks, Mills said. He didn’t have a
damage estimate.

“I’m told they may
have to bring in equipment from New York to remove the debris on the track and
the cars, so they’re talking about a couple of weeks,” he said. “So, I suspect,
it will cause a significant loss to them.”

Mills said the town of Gilead was not evacuated, but state police did
evacuate a camp within 200 feet of the
accident. 

Local resident Linda Taylor said she was told otherwise by a state trooper. She and her husband were stopped on her way home and was told that Route 2 was closed and people had to either take Route 5 to Fryeburg and Conway, N.H. to the south or Route 26 to Upton and Errol, N.H.

“He told us that people in Gilead had been evacuated and I said, ‘No, they haven’t. We live in Gilead and we’re going through, and you’re not going to stop us,'” Taylor said.

When the trooper continued to refuse, Taylor said she called her daughter in Gilead, who told her the town had not been evacuated.

They ignored the trooper and drove through, returning home to learn that her daughter had been correct, she said.

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