At the end of May, a CSX cargo trailed collided with a tractor trailer carrying trash, northeast of Baltimore City. An investigation is currently underway, but it is currently unclear how the events unfolded. The investigators are unsure of how the truck got on the tracks or even if it was attempting to cross when the collision occurred. It may have simply been a derailment of the train itself. What investigators do know, is that 15 cars derailed from 45 car train.
The cars were carrying various hazardous materials such as sodium chlorate, used in bleaching paper, and fluoroacetic acid, used to make products that kill rodents and deter coyotes. The cars burned for several hours and pour large plumes of smoke over Baltimore's skyline. Bystanders shared their accounts and many caught the raging fire on video. One witness said that he was standing outside of his home near Route 40 watching the fire when the explosion occurred. He said "all of a sudden the explosion happened and actually knocked me off my feet. The window broke out it the house. You could feel the heat on our faces. I've never seen anything like it."
Other witnesses said that their windows also blew out and light fixtures crashed down from the ceiling. The face of a nearby warehouse was also ripped off by the explosion. Baltimore is no stranger to these types of derailments. A CSX trail also derailed in an tunnel in July of 2001. Firefighters were unable to put out the burning cars, so they burned underground for five straight days. Eventually CSX paid the city $2 million to help pay for the cleanup costs.
Shippers carrying hazardous materials are now required to give officials real-time information on the movement of hazardous materials for exactly these types of situations, but stricter regulations must be put in place to help ensure that these dangerous derailments are less likely to occur in the future. One bystander said she and her husband "initially feared a bomb or natural disaster," and said they first "thought it was terrorism."