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LEE, MA – Seven Housatonic Railroad freight cars derailed in Lee, Massachusetts on Monday, March 29, 2010 around 8 p.m. Two of the freight cars tipped over onto their sides, one of them that was loaded with lumber fell into the Housatonic River.

Seven freight cars derailed at the Pine Street crossing in Lee, Massachusetts on Monday, March 29, 2010. Photo credit: Massachusetts Department of Fire Services Hazmat Team.

Lee is in western Massachusetts, about 125 miles west of Boston, about 42 miles northwest of Springfield, about 105 miles west of Framingham and about 91 miles west of Worcester.

The 7 freight cars were part of 27-car train that jumped the tracks at the Pine Street crossing, next to the Housatonic River. The train was headed southbound on its way from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Canaan, Connecticut.

The other five freight cars were off the tracks but remained upright. One freight car that was a cause of concern was a tanker containing 20,000 gallons of ethanol. Initially it was thought that the tanker had been leaking but officials took a closer look and they determined that the tanker car was not leaking.

Location of seven-car derailment at the Pine Street crossing in Lee, MA.

Railroad officials said that the track was just inspected Monday morning and that they didn’t find any problems with it.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was called in due to the proximity of the accident to the river, but no leaks are reported.

Oddly enough, the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), a group dedicated toward preserving the river, is located just across from the freight car that fell into the river. The HVA said that they were relieved that was not the one carrying ethanol.

Dennis Regan, regional director of the HVA, said, “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” remarking on the nearby tracks. He pointed out that the tracks are aging and that the HVA has been asking the railroad company to upgrade them for quite awhile, now.

Fortunately, no railroad workers were hurt in the mishap.

Railroad officials say the derailment caused no environmental damage and that the cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

The railroad company commented that it was hoping to start rebuilding the tracks soon.

Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, are top nationwide FELA lawyers representing railroad workers injured on the job who need experienced attorneys knowledgeable in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA is not workers compensation and it governs the employee’s right to recovery, governing the rights and remedies of railroad employees. For more information about FELA, MA FELA Law, and FELA rights, contact an experienced FELA lawyer through Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. for expert advice. Call 800.773.6770.

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