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Two Dead After CSX Train Derails in Ellicott City

Officials say 21 cars derailed.

At least two people are dead and CSX personnel were on the way at about 3 a.m. Tuesday to search for any additional victims after a late Monday night.

Just before midnight, Tuesday, 21 cars of an 80-car-long freight train derailed along the CSX line that travels through the Ellicott City historic district, according to a press release from the Howard County Police Department.

The train was headed southbound. Train cars and their loads—coal—fell into the parking lot off of Main Street, on the west side of the Patapsco River, said County Executive Ken Ulman, speaking on behalf of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the Howard County Police Department.

Two confirmed fatalities were people on the CSX-owned bridge over Main Street, said Ulman.

As of about 3 a.m., officials on the scene said they did not yet have information on the identities of the two victims, or why they were on the tracks. "All we know is that they're there," Police Captain Lee Lachman said.  

Main Street will be closed for what Fire Chief William Goddard called an "extended operation." Officials urge drivers to use an alternate route at least through Tuesday.

According to Ulman, representatives from the Maryland State Department of the Environment surveyed the scene and said, tentatively, that there was no serious impact on the Patapsco River.

"It could have been a lot worse, when it comes to chemicals," Ulman said of the spill.

On Aug. 8, . No one was injured in that incident. 

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Doug K August 21, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Twice in the last few weeks we have now had train derailments in Howard County. The Howard County Public School System is apparently intent on putting a middle school at the Oxford Square site, which is adjacent to the CSX train tracks. At a minimum, then, the school system should have an independent safety study done by a competent professional trained in assessing cargo manifests, frequency, speed, and schedule of railroad traffic, grade, curves, type and condition of track, need for sound or safety barriers, need for pedestrian and vehicle safeguards at railroad crossing, presence of high pressure gas lines near the tracks that could rupture in the event of a derailment, preparation of an evacuation plan. In addition to the analysis, possible and reasonable mitigation measures must be identified. To do otherwise is to put the children of Elkridge in harm's way without even examining the best strategy to keep them safe.
Dave A. August 21, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Oh boy here we go again... What about making sure the building is grounded against lightning, has tornado proof construction and designated life boats for a hurricaine!?? I have never heard so much whining in my life. Yes I am for safety. Guess what, if it is a chemical leak the initial evacuation area will be for 1/2 a mile or more.... Lets relocate housing in Elkridge to alleviate that as well.
Doug K August 21, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I'm not sure what you think is whining . . . that the county should do a study to take reasonable safety precautions? That an independent safety expert should evaluate the situation? I don't think that's whining but asking the school system to take reasonable precautions.
Dave A. August 22, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Peopl have been whining about the fact that we need new schools. The county has land here so why not use it. They re drew the layout of the site to account for the railroad and moved the school further away. If you think that NO SAFETY goes into planning a site survey for any public building you are wrong. Whiners complained for the new school when an E/S was going to go there. Then they complained when it was placed on Ducketts La. Maybe we should build schools on the moon and shuttle the kids back and forth from earth? Where do you think they should go when land is limited? Would you want your property condemed in order to build a school? I think not, so they do best with what is available.
Dave A. August 22, 2012 at 02:42 AM
And too the families of the two girls that passed at this accident my prayers go out to you and sorry to have aired this discussion in this thread! Peace be with all of you...
Kevin Harbula August 22, 2012 at 04:11 AM
To Dave: I totaly agree with Doug ! By NO MEANS is his concerns "whining". Do you have children ? Our children are the most valueable asset our country has and their safety is OUR RESPONSIBILITY ! You evidently have no experience with the decision making process of our county government. The almighty $$ almost always trumps safety issues with the county planning board. Voicing one's opinion & concerns are NOT WHINING Dave, it is our constitutional right & OUR RESPONSIBILITY !!! People whom complain about citizens exercising our God & government given rights are the whiners ! Doug, we need to take our concerns to the proper venue instead of dealing with uncaring & ignorant people like our friend here. I have actually SUCCESSFULLY worked with our congressmen, senators ( usually through their staffers ) on numerous times on various issues. I have been pleasantly & consistently surprised in how knowledgeable & dedicated they are & how quickly they cut through all the red tape & they don't consider it "whining" !
Jack August 22, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Actually the school system has no idea what the safest and unsafest parts of our schools are in case of a tornado because they have yet to have an engineer evaluate them so they may very well send the children into an area with a large roof like a gym or next to a high interior wall which in both cases are prone to colapse in this situation. Actually this year Mr. Bruzga, director of secondary schools, told me he was going told me he was attending a meeting on this very subject. When we had the back to back blizards there was up to and over a 100 pounds per square foot load on our school roofs which is 3 times what they are designed to hold and Cousin opened the schools without and inspection by a certified roofer or engineer even though after the first blizzard they were advised the load on the roofs was over capacity and of concern.
Jack August 22, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Now it is a shame to talk about this here after this tragedy however the BOE did not look at this issue in the best interest of our children. Free land and 4 million dollars made whores of the board. Look at house values along the CSX lines and they are far less than other neighborhoods. The 20 acres and school is the buffer for the housing developement. Absolutely pitiful. Now just so you know the reason there is no land is because the county and the hcpss failed the citizens in the east for yearsand it is people like Aquino who need to be held accountable for doing nothing about it.
Frank in Elkridge August 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM
The planned school site is well over a thousand feet from the tracks. I'm not at all worried about sending my kids there. I also commute on those same tracks everyday. But that has absolutely nothing to to do with the tragedy in Ellicott City. Shame on you for even bringing it up.
Dave A. August 22, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Kevin, Just like you I have the freedom to exercise my right to speak here as well. Bottom line is this: If you think your wonderful Federal Leaders can or will help you with this then go ahead and waste your time. They are as worthless as our state leadership. Frank is right, there is more then enough distance between the school and the tracks.
Dave A. August 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Schools in the Elkridge area have been overcrowded since the opening of all the housing on Ducketts La, Hanover Crossing and the Rockburn area... And the funny thing is most of those who whined about the E/S live in those areas... And Kevin, how would you like your land condemed for the building of a new school? I don't think you would so they are trying to do the best there is with what they have without taking someones property. As far as your comment you do not know me well enough to know how I deal with the county, and I do have experience in dealing with community issues and have for over 20 years, so please don't lower yourself to being a know it all.
Dave A. August 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Jack, I agree with you about Cousins, but his idiotic reign is over. Getting something for free is not a sin. It was given to them. As for the homes along the line, while they may not have increased much, have lost no $$ value. They just are not as pliable for sale in the market, and BTW, nobody twisted arms for folks to buy them in the first place, so whining here is a moot point as well. Some of the homes, are owned by some of the same people whining about the school are built less then 50 yards from the tracks in Hanover! The same ones that complained about the transfer station! That line has been in service as long as I am old! But they still bought and moved there. Now they cry.... Sorry no pity. And like it has been mentioned before, this is the wrong place to debate this so I am done after this post. Prayer to the Nass family and the Mayr family on the loss of their loved ones......
Elizabeth Janney (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Do you know whether anyone has submitted this request to HCPSS?
Adam R August 25, 2012 at 10:52 AM
I heard Ken Ulman say Wens AM on WBAL Main Street would be open that day. He had no clue how long the NSTB investigation would take, even considering there were 2 unfortunate deaths involved. He had no clue that CSX would have to replace the bad tracks. He had no clue about what was involved in hauling away by truck the coal spilled by 21 overturned cars I am glad Main Street opened last night for all the shop owners. As a message to Ulman if you don't know what your talking about zip it till you get all the facts from the experts. I expect more than this from County Leadership.
Dave A. August 25, 2012 at 04:12 PM
When thos estatements are made they are made on information that was obtained at the erliest before the broadcast is made. CSX has a history of telling folks what it wants to hear, and not the truth until after an investigation, much like what happened in Baltimore several years ago when the trained derailed and burned for days in the Howard St. Tunnel. The truth is CSX was stalling on cleanup so they could get their line back open because the only buisness they care about having restored is THEIR OWN! They don't care about the commuters or other buisness' that were affected. I have nothing bad to say about the way the county handled this. The victims deaths needed to be investigated and documented by the police and medical examiner before anything else could be started and with their recovery that took a great deal of time. Again thank you to the the county services and officials for dealing with this in a completely professional and thorough manner!

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