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WILLIMANTIC, CT – On Tuesday, November 9, 2010 a New England Central Railroad (NECR) train carrying 30,000 gallons of ethanol derailed in Willimantic, CT. NECR is based in Brattleboro, Vermont.

New England Central Railroad train hauling ethanol derails in Willimantic, CT on November 9, 2010.

Willimantic is in Windham County Connecticut in the northeastern part of the state about 29 miles southeast of Hartford.

The derailment happened near the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Street in downtown Willimantic around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.


Six cars of an 80-car southbound train derailed in the incident. Four of the derailed freight cars were tankers that were carrying ethanol. Two of the derailed tanker cars were tipped over onto their sides and the other two that jumped the tracks remained upright.

Officials from the Department of Transportation (DOT) said that the train was on its way to Providence, RI where the ethanol was to be blended with gasoline for consumer consumption. The train began in Illinois and derailed in Willimantic after a stop in New Hampshire.

The train was moving at a slow rate of speed through the areas. The engineer explained that the derailment was detected by a fail-safe mechanism and stopped the train.

Location of NECR train derailment in downtown Willimantic, CT on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at about 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Street.

Ethanol is grain alcohol and is flammable. It is considered to be a hazardous material when transported. Fortunately, none of the ethanol was  spilled in the mishap and no injuries to the townspeople or to any railroad workers were reported.

At this time the cause of the derailment is unknown. The accident is currently under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Railroad officials hired a company from Albany, N.Y. that specializes in railroad recovery to bring in derailment crews to right the toppled tankers upright and repair the tracks.

Crews worked to right the tipped tanker cars but, to be safe, they wanted to pump out the ethanol before righting them. The ethanol that was pumped out was transferred to empty rail cars on adjacent tracks.

By Wednesday, the next day, four cars had been put back on the tracks and were moved.

The Fire Department took precautions and imposed an evacuation of nearby parking areas and some pedestrian areas on Willimantic’s Foot Bridge. Riverside Drive was closed during the cleanup while emergency crews were working in the area.

Officials say that this is third such derailment in Eastern Connecticut this year.

Published by FELA lawyer news blog at Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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