Orono hazmat team assists with train derailment near Rockwood

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:44 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Crews from around Maine responded to the call of the train derailment between Jackman and Rockwood last weekend.

As fire departments worked to extinguish the flames that sparked from the incident, a team from the Orono Fire Department had a different task.

The fire department has a Hazardous Materials Mitigation, or Haz-Mat team.

When events happen involving the potential spread of hazardous materials, this team is there.

“We respond to any hazardous material, call, but we’re also a Type One Hazmat Team so we are also able to respond to weapons of mass destruction. So, if for some reason there was a WMD event, whether that’s chemical weapons, radiological, our team is able to respond to those. But years past, we’ve responded to like chemical release, whether it’s in a lab or in transportation, so there’s a leak that occurs because they were, you know, either a car accident or a vehicle accident. So, we respond to those as well,” said Deputy Chief Kevin Sirois, Orono Fire Department.

Although the team is part of the Orono Fire Department, they cover a large part of the state, including Penobscot, Piscataquis, Aroostook, Hancock, Washington, and Somerset counties.

Saturday’s derailment was their first call to Somerset County.

“Initially, we were in conversation with the incident commander, which was Jackman fire chief, as well as DEP. And then they asked us to participate in downrange mission, which we went down and did some area monitoring and also, we checked the containers for any leaks, and we had no abnormal readings on air monitors and it did not appear that there were any hazardous materials leaking at that time,” Sirois said.

In addition to emergency crews, multiple agencies including, Maine Warden Service, Maine Forest Service, US Border Patrol, and representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration and Canadian Pacific Railway were on the scene.

Sirois adds that although there several groups involved, all parties worked together to secure the area and ensure everyone’s safety.

“I think it was a large group effort that was able to keep things you know safe for everyone. That was obviously important because you had a lot of people there. So being able to have that crew resource management and utilizing everyone on scene definitely goes to say why the operation was successful,” added Sirois.

No word on when they will be finished but we’ll update this report as information becomes available.