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Back on track? CSX updates public

In the wake of the March 12 CSX trail derailment in Oneida, city officials hosted a public informational meeting at the Oneida High School to update residents on the clean up and answer questions. Oneida Councilman Donald Moore, fire Chief Donald Hudson, police Chief David Meeker, Jeff Snyder from the county Health Department and CSX officials and its contracted agency department heads were present during the March 22 meeting.

Hudson recapped the role the fire department played during and after the accident, including evacuation procedures that were applied.

"We followed the [Department of Transportation's] guide book on liquid propane of a one-mile evacuation," Hudson said. "It's better to go bigger than smaller in an evac."

Meeker also explained the police agency's procedures.

"We set up patrols and detours," Meeker said. "We evacuated homes and requested assistance from neighboring agencies."

Maurice O'Connell, public relations spokesman for CSX thanked the emergency first responders and said their performance was "nothing short of remarkable."

"After the derailment our first priority was the safety of the community," O'Connell said. "We've been monitoring air, water and soil since the accident."

O'Connell apologized to the public for disrupting their lives and said they would "be here for as long as needed."

O'Connell said that the train was carrying 79 cars. Of the 79, 29 derailed. Twenty-three were carrying tanks of which 22 were hazardous materials. Twenty were carrying liquid propane, one was carrying toluene, one had latex paint aboard, three were grain, two were box cars and one was a gondola.

Paul Watson, supervisor of environmental field services for CSX based in Selkirk was one of the first to respond at the scene. Watson, a 31-year veteran for CSX was responsible for damage assessment.

"We secured the area and our contractors were dispatched immediately," Watson said.

One of those specialists was a 12-member team from the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, LLC of Little Rock, Ark.

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