The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined CPKC, a freight railroad, around $16,500 for two train derailments in the last two years that caused nearly 15,000 gallons of oil to spill into waterways.

The EPA had alleged CPKC, formerly Canadian Pacific, and its subsidiary, Central Maine & Quebec Railways, had violated the federal Clean Water Act. CPKC ultimately settled with EPA.

A CPKC train derailed near Rockwood on April 15, 2023. Three of its locomotives and six of its freight cars derailed. The EPA said that approximately 13,630 gallons of oil leaked from the CPKC train. Photo courtesy of Maine Land Use Planning Commission

The EPA said the settlement is a sign of its commitment to American waterways by holding transportation companies accountable for their environmental impacts.

“Transportation companies using, storing or handling fuel oils have responsibilities to prevent spills and contamination of the environment,” said David W. Cash, the EPA’s New England Regional Administrator.

That accountability addresses CPKC’s failure to properly maintain its rail infrastructure, which ultimately led to both derailments.

In October 2022, a CPKC train carrying 33 cars of hazardous materials derailed near Milo, Maine. Five of those hazardous-materials cars derailed from the tracks. And six months later, on April 15, 2023, another of CPKC’s trains flew off the tracks near Rockwood. Three of its locomotives and six of its freight cars derailed, including two cars carrying hazardous materials. All but the two hazardous-materials cars caught fire, igniting a small forest fire.



A Federal Railroad Administration inspector determined in an investigation that both derailments were caused by “flood water erosion undermining railroad track beds,” the EPA said in a statement.

CPKC repeatedly asserted that the derailment posed no threat to public safety. But in a statement announcing the settlement, the EPA came to a different conclusion.

Neither of the derailments resulted in leaks from the cars carrying hazardous materials. But a significant amount of fuel leaked from both trains.

Train Derailment Maine

Several locomotives and rail cars burn after a freight train derailed April 15, 2023, in Sandwich Academy Grant Township, near Rockwood, Maine. Maine Forest Service via AP

It was first reported that 500 gallons of fuel leaked from train cars in the Rockwood derailment. But in a January 2024 court filing, the EPA stated that approximately 13,630 gallons of oil leaked from the CPKC train. Around 1,000 gallons of fuel diesel oil, 25 gallons of gear oil and 25 gallons of engine oil leaked from the derailed cars in October 2022 derailment near Milo.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection previously contended that the oil from the April 2023 derailment leaked during its cleanup because CPKC didn’t follow directions.


“To date, CPKC and/or their contractors have failed to meet department expectations regarding timing and response of clean-up activities in order to effectively mitigate impacts to the environment and public health,” DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim wrote in a letter to CPKC warning it of potential DEP violations.

That significant volume of fuel leaked in part because CPKC had not removed the derailed train cars from the site in a timely manner. And CPKC ignored the DEP’s directive to drain all the saddle tanks in the derailed locomotives before removing them from the site of the accident.

Those oils and fluids saturated the soil and contaminated nearby Moose River and Little Brassua Lake.

The EPA also reported that spilled oil accumulated on the shoreline and there was a fuel oil sheen on surface waters – in waters “which ultimately flow into the Atlantic Ocean.”


The EPA settlement is the first publicly known financial repercussions that CPKC has faced. EPA also said that CPKC reported the oil spills to the National Response Center and has been paying for the environmental and emergency response costs for both of the derailments.

In addition to the EPA fines, CPKC has agreed to purchase and donate emergency equipment, including an off-road response vehicle to a local fire department.

“This equipment will help protect the community and surrounding environment from any future oil spill or other release of pollutants,” the EPA said.

It’s unclear, however, to what extent CPKC has been disciplined for the derailments. The DEP said in August 2023 that it had issued a notice of violation to CPKC. And the Federal Railroad Administration investigator recommended that the agency require remedial action. But the Press Herald was unable to determine whether the agency followed through because it did not produce the necessary records in a public-records request last year.

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