By Carley Dangona
WEST SPRINGFIELD – A chemical spill threatened the CSX rail yard this weekend, but first responders prevented catastrophe.
At 2:30 a.m. on March 8, Fire Chief William Flaherty received a call regarding a spill of organic ammonia at the CSX site. The source of the leak was a package on a UPS truck. Rail traffic was halted during the cleanup, but no residential evacuation was required.
Flaherty explained to Reminder Publications
that the chemical is “extremely flammable” and has “corrosive vapors” that can irritate skin and eyes. There were two spills onsite, one at the truck scale and one within 50-feet of the main rail line where the tractor-trailer pulled to offload its contents. The equivalent of a five-gallon bucket was spilt.
In addition to the West Springfield Fire Department, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts District Four Hazardous Material Response Team of the Western Massachusetts Region Homeland Security Advisory Council tended the accident. Cleanup contractors from CSX and UPS were also on hand, according to Flaherty.
The spill had “seeped into several boxes” on the truck, the chief said. Per protocol, the spills were checked with thermal imaging to check for heat signatures, which signal a potential explosion. None was found. The cleanup was finalized and the rail reopened at approximately 8 a.m. that same morning.
When asked how often such spills occur, Flaherty responded, “We don’t have it too often.”
In the near future, Flaherty will go before the Town Council to request a $36,000 appropriation of free cash for the purchase of a new rescue boat for the Fire Department.
The chief said the department currently owns a 30-year-old airboat.
“It is unique because you can go on ice or in very shallow water,” Flaherty said, adding that he was initially interested in that same type of vessel, but there are no shops in the area that could maintain the boat. The current boat’s manufacturer was from Maine, but has long since been out of business.
Instead, the department is interested in purchasing a 2014 outboard motor boat and trailer. The cost will cover features such as a battery charger, a storage box, searchlights, a radio system, leaning posts, a fish finder that assists with the search of murky waters and a second trolling motor that can be place in the water at the front of the boat to attend to shallow water. The boat is gas operated and has reverse.
The item has yet to be scheduled to go before the council.