WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - West Springfield police have evacuating residents of streets near the railroad trestle, as the effort to clear two derailed railroad tanker cars from the bridge continues.
Police have evacuated residents of Globe, Railroad, and Bridge Streets; which are in the immediate vicinity of the trestle. Police have not yet determined whether to evacuate residents of Chapin Street, but the road is closed to all but emergency vehicles at this time.
School buses have been brought in to move the residents out, and about 14 have been taken to the West Springfield Middle School, where CSX is providing meals for them. Meanwhile, Route 5 remains closed from the Memorial Bridge Rotary to the North End Bridge Rotary.
West Springfield Mayor Greg Neffinger told 22News that the evacuations are being done only as a precaution. He said that in the event that there was a leak, they would evacuate about 30 streets in the city's Merrick section; in the area between Sprague Street on the north, Memorial Avenue on the south, Union Street on the west, and Route 5 on the east. Residents of the area have been notified through a robo-call.
According to the Mayor, two rail cars derailed Thursday night; one of the cars is full of a flammable liquid, while another one is mostly empty, but with residual flammable liquids.
CSX's hazardous materials team has been brought-in, and after analyzing the cars, they decided to pick up the tankers and put them back onto the tracks, as opposed to pumping the fluid out of the cars.
"Right now, they feel confident that the tankers are in a condition that they can be picked up and re-placed back onto the tracks," Neffinger said in a noontime news conference. Two large cranes have been brought in on either side of the two derailed cars, and the equipment has lifted the cars partially into the air.
Watch the efforts streaming live from our 22News Springfield skycam.
The Mayor said that there are no signs of leaking, but these are double-walled tankers, so there could be leaking inside, which could be dangerous if something broke while they were lifting it.
The operation to put the cars back on the tracks is expected to continue into the evening hours, the Mayor said.