July 10, 2013

Signs of a criminal act in Canada train explosion

Investigators consider that and other possible causes of a train crash that left at least 15 dead and dozens missing.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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"We have about 16 through freights through the state of Maine a day and 20 local trains that work throughout the state," she said.

Pan Am and the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad account for the majority of rail traffic in Greater Portland.


Fire officials in Portland and South Portland say they train extensively for large oil fires and have advanced equipment that is not available in a small town like Lac-Megantic.

James Budway, emergency management director for Cumberland County, said fire departments participated in at least two trainings last year for railroad emergencies.

"Trains certainly have a huge capacity for carrying fuel or whatever the substances are, a lot more than a truck," Budway said. "That's why Portland and South Portland are so involved in what goes on at Rigby Yard."

Individual fire departments have conducted training exercises in cooperation with specific railroad companies.

The types of substances that the railroads carry vary widely.

The volume of oil and other commodities on the Pan Am railroad fluctuates from day to day, Scarano said, and oil is a relatively new commodity in the past year and a half.

"We occasionally had maybe an oil car here and there, but not as far as a dedicated train," she said.

Scarano cited industry statistics that 1.8 million carloads of hazardous materials were delivered by rail last year nationwide, and 99.99 percent were completed with no materials spilled.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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