AYER — No one was injured as five cars on a freight train jointly owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern derailed Thursday, prompting a response from the Fire Department, Police Department and Department of Public Works.
Emergency personnel responded to the area of Sculley Road at approximately 11:30 a.m. where they surveyed the damage caused by five overturned train cars. Contents of the cars had spilled out onto the side of the tracks.
First responders were later joined by members of the DPW and officials from CSX and National Grid, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jeremy Januskiewicz.
In a Facebook post, the Fire Department noted that the derailed cars did not contain hazardous materials as they urged people to avoid the area. Later, a tweet posted by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency clarified that the derailed cars were carrying trash and recycling.
MEMA State Control has been notified of a train derailment in @TownOfAyer. The 10 derailed cars were reportedly carrying trash/recycling — NO hazardous materials involved. Our Regional Coordinator is in communication w/ Ayer FD. No outstanding requests for state assistance.
— MEMA (@MassEMA) March 23, 2023
In a statement shared by its media team, CSX said an investigation into the cause of the derailment was underway.
“Just before noon today, a freight train operated by Springfield Terminals derailed five rail cars carrying ten intermodal containers holding solid waste on the Pan Am Southern rail line in Ayer, MA. There were no reported injuries to the crew, no hazardous materials involved, no leaks or spills of any freight and no impacts to the environment,” the statement said. “CSX personnel are responding as the incident occurred on a line jointly owned with Norfolk Southern. We are working closely with local first responders to assess the situation and develop a recovery plan. The cause of the incident is under investigation.”
The Jacksonville, Florida-based company officially acquired Pan Am Railways in 2022, which was headquartered in Billerica and previously operated the rail line with Norfolk Southern.
On Monday, four cars on a CSX train carrying non-hazardous materials derailed in Androscoggin County, Maine. News Center Maine reported those cars were carrying a limestone slurry.
According to Januskiewicz, the train had been parked when it was derailed.
Train and rail safety has been a hot-button topic in recent weeks following a derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month. On Feb. 3, about 50 cars, some carrying hazardous products, derailed, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern.