MI residents finally go home

BY PJ HELLER | POTTERVILLE, MI | June 3, 2002


City residents were finally allowed back in their homes Saturday following the Memorial Day derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous materials.

The train, carrying propane and sulfuric acid, derailed Monday afternoon sending 35 cars of the 58-car freight off the tracks. Two of the derailed tanker cars were filled with sulfuric acid and nine others were each loaded with 34,000 gallons of liquid propane.

Authorities had evacuated all 2,200 residents of the town, fearing an explosion. Electricity, which had been turned off to the town after the derailment, was partially restored Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities had feared that a spark or electrical surge could ignite the cars which they said could cause an explosion that could wipe out the town. Two of the cars were leaking propane and there was a concern that a third might also have been punctured. Several cars buried in the wreckage were also being checked for leaking propane.

Crews Tuesday began burning off the propane to lessen the risk of an explosion. They got 19 of the 35 cars back on the rails or moved to the side of the track. Eight of the remaining cars contained propane.

Emergency officials allowed residents of the town back home Saturday

The cause of the derailment was under investigation. No injuries were reported.

The Grand Trunk train was en route from Toronto to Chicago. Grand Trunk is a subsidiary of Canadian National Railroad.

The derailment occurred near a mobile home park and a subdivision in Potterville. The town is about 12 miles from Lansing.

A temporary shelter was set up at the sheriff's office and the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross provided assistance. Canadian National said it would reimburse residents for hotel rooms and meals.

Canadian National has more than 18,000 miles of track in the U.S. and Canada.


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