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CSX Train strands Sunset Bay residents for more than 6 hours

Mon, June 29, 2015 11:29 AM | Deleted user
Train blocks access to Sunset Bay. 
(Photo: Bernie Lomack)

A CSX train broke down on the tracks Sunday and blocked access to and from both Sunset Bay and Hanford Bay for more than six hours - from about 2:30 to 9 p.m. - leaving residents on both sides of the tracks stranded. Although there is a private roadway between both Sunset Bay and Hanford Bay, when the train spans both Allegany and Hanover roads, there is no access to any roadway to get to medical care.

The Sunset Bay Fire Department was prepared to answer any emergency calls. “If someone needs medical attention we are prepared to pass them through the stopped train cars and transport them to the hospital,” said Town of Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson, also a volunteer firefighter for Sunset Bay who was on the scene Sunday evening.

Residents of Sunset Bay have noted that the tracks have been blocked more often than normal recently.   

Residents also expressed their continued concerned about the ability to get out of Sunset Bay by accessing the Hanover Rd crossing when just the Alleghany Rd crossing is blocked. There is an access road with a locked gate which separates Hanford Bay and Sunset Bay.  In this situation, both the Sunset Bay and Silver Creek Fire Departments as well as the Chautauqua Co Sheriffs have keys and are able to unlock the gate in case of a blocked track on one of the rail road crossings.  On Sunday, when both crossings were blocked, this would not have alleviated the situation.

Of additional concern to residents of Sunset Bay is the presence of new and more frequent shipments of crude oil that is being carried on these trains. Frank Boniface, a long time resident of Sunset Bay, brought his concerns to the Hanover Town Board in April of this year as reported in the Sunset Bay Observer:

"What happens if an oil train explodes? I have stood and counted the oil cars and there are at least 100 when they go by. Does the county have a plan?" he asked. "I am less concerned about putting the fire out and more concerned about getting the people out."

...Hanover Disaster Coordinator Steve D'Angelo said it will be up to the disaster team to determine evacuation plans for the bay areas along with the help of the county, the railroad and the Federal Railroad Transportation Board.

He noted that because there are so many variables that go into planning for something like a train derailment, it is hard to plan for exactly what will happen.

There are plans and training in place to deal with fires from this type of disaster and recent interest may take that a step further. However, evacuation plans need to be updated as a result of this new issue.

for more on this article, please see the Sunset Bay Observer

CSX officials were unavailable for comment Sunday evening.

For any Railroad Emergencies, including blocked crossings, crossing accidents, signal problems, hazardous materials release, unsafe driving, theft, vandalism or trespassing, CSX can be contacted at 1-800-232-0144

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