CSX derailment alarms region

STORY BY KATHY KAHN

PHOTO BY MARTIN MUNSCH

wreckMarch 7 was just another Tuesday afternoon on the City of Newburgh’s waterfront that suddenly turned into everyone’s worst nightmare when a 77-car CSX freight train struck a disabled boom lift in its path.

The train was going approximately 30 miles per hour when it hit the boom lift, pushing it several hundred feet down the tracks before the lead locomotive derailed and landed across River Road taking with it two other locomotives, 15 freight cars and three tank cars.

New York State Police Captain Richard Mazzone said the cleanup has been ongoing since the accident occurred. By Wednesday evening, River Road looked more a war zone than a well-traveled street which leads to Newburgh’s waterfront, a popular tourist destination.

A truck driver for Global Oil on River Road watched with The Rockland Times as cleanup crews mitigated the oil spill from the locomotive, which lost between 2,000-4,400 gallons of diesel, depending upon who was working at the site—as of this writing, CSX crews, along with Miller Environmental Services and  Carver Co. of Albany, NY.

Mazzone said it was “close to a miracle” there were only minor injuries and no tankers carrying hazardous chemicals were compromised in the collision.

For the towns and villages along the Hudson where CSX trains, usually pulling many more cars than the one in Tuesday’s accident, it was another reminder of the dangers faced by communities that have flourished since manufacturing, for the most part, has disappeared from the banks of the Hudson.

Two weeks ago, The Rockland Times took a tour Village of Haverstraw Mayor Michael  Kohut to view the improvements the municipality was making to make its downtown and waterfront more appealing to tourists and home buyers. “When I look up at the top of the hill and see the CSX tracks above our community, I shudder to think what would happen if there was an accident.” 

No doubt Kohut, along with dozens of other municipalities building up their waterfronts in anticipation of becoming “walkable communities” with activities to draw in tourists, are privately thanking their Creator this particular CSX accident did not happen in their backyards.

Mazzone said the cleanup will continue and is expected to be completed by Thursday, but from the looks of the work that still had to be accomplished and snow on its way for Friday, it may take longer to put River Road—and the fears of Newburgh’s residents and businesses—to recover.

CSX officials could not be reached by press time for comment.