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CSX Reimburses EMS Agencies for Derailment Response

CLEVELAND, Ohio– Forty-eight fire, rescue and emergency services departments who responded to a 112-car train derailment in October were reimbursed a total of more than $600,000 Monday from CSX.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the derailment that forced 1,300 Painesville and Mentor residents out of their homes for several days as ethanol-fueled fires raged on the tracks near Heisley Road and Ohio 2.

U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette distributed checks totaling $608,000 to Lake County Emergency Management Agency, Lubrizol Fire Department and 14 fire departments in Lake County. Seventeen agencies in Cuyahoga, 12 in Geauga and two in Ashtabula shared in the cash as well.

Mentor and Painesville fire departments handled the bulk of the evacuations and firefighting and earned checks of more than $100,000. Reimbursements ranged from $1,000 to more than $122,000 depending on the number of firefighters, equipment and overtime.

This truly was a team effort and departments from across Northeast Ohio were quick to offer their help, said LaTourette, a Bainbridge Township Republican. There were no injuries, no loss of life and not a single home or business was lost due to the derailment and ensuing fire.

LaTourette said the response to the derailment was out of a textbook and should serve as a lesson to other communities. He commended Painesville Fire Chief Mark Mlachak and Kirtland Fire Chief Tony Hutton for coordinating the response.

LaTourette said he called CSX Chief Operating Officer Tony Ingram soon after the derailment and expressed concerns that local budgets would suffer.

I asked CSX to reimburse our first responders and there was no hesitation, LaTourette said.

CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said total cleanup costs are not yet calculated. He said as a precaution, CSX and EPA officials continue to monitor the site for water contamination.

EPA spokesman Reggie Brown could not be reached for comment. Brown supervised the site when 500,000 gallons of contaminated water was removed in October. The derailment spilled ethanol and other chemicals in the ground near a protected wetland that empties into the Mentor Marsh. EPA and train contractors erected dikes at the site to contain runoff until the waste could be transported elsewhere.

The derailment also spurred two class action lawsuits filed by residents upset they were forced out of their homes and concerned about chemical contamination when they moved back. Those lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

cleveland.com/news