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Video: Norfolk Southern train derails in MA

Police car lights (Dreamstime/TNS)
March 23, 2023

A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in Massachusetts Thursday afternoon – at least the third such incident for the company since February’s toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The train derailed around 12:13 p.m. in the town of Ayer, according to a Facebook post by the Ayer Fire Department. None of the derailed cars were carrying hazardous materials, the post stated.

READ MORE: Norfolk Southern sued by Ohio over toxic train derailment

A total of 10 train cars went off the tracks, the local ABC affiliate WCVB reported. WCVB posted lengthy aerial footage of the scene on social media.

The Massachusetts Department of Emergency Management said it was told the cars that derailed are holding trash and recycling materials, WCVB reported.

The Ayer Fire Department stated on Facebook that it is “working with officials from the railroad, Ayer Police Department and Ayer Department of Public Works to mitigate this incident.”

The incident follows recent Norfolk Southern derailments near Springfield, Ohio; Lexington, North Carolina; and Detroit, Michigan. 

All of those incidents came within a month of the East Palestine derailment, which for weeks has made headlines as residents fear contamination from chemicals that were deliberately burned off in some of the train cars.

After burning chemicals sent a plume of black smoke over the town, residents have reported headaches, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms. The Environmental Protection Agency has maintained that water, air, and soil samples so far have not shown concerning contamination.

Derailments are the most common type of train accident and occurred an average of 1,705 times a year between 1990 and 2021, according to federal data.

In the past 10 years, about 10 to 20 train derailments a year have involved the release of hazardous materials, Allan Zarembski, director of the Railway Engineering and Safety Program at University of Delaware, told the Poynter Institute.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.