CSX to Pay $2 Million for Cleanup Costs from Baltimore Tunnel Fire

February 15, 2006

CSX Transportation will pay Baltimore $2 million for costs incurred following a 2001 train derailment and tunnel fire that paralyzed the city for days.

No fault was assigned to either the city or CSX under the settlement which was finalized Feb. 13. Baltimore sued the rail company to recover cleanup costs estimated to be as high as $12 million.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley said he was “glad this final part of that calamity is behind us.”

CSX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward said in a joint statement that “rather than continuing to litigate, both parties have agreed to dedicate shared resources and energy to further enhance safety and security in the city,”

The city contended the derailed cars and fire caused a water main in the tunnel to burst, spilling thousands of gallons of water. CSX argued that poor city maintenance led to a broken water main which caused the derailment.

The damage shut down the city for days, and games at nearby Oriole Park at Camden Yards were canceled. It also caused millions of dollars in damages to businesses and forced the city to pay overtime for emergency crews and cleanup.

The case was scheduled to go to trial on March 13. The city will ask its Board of Estimates to approve the settlement at its Feb. 22 meeting.

“That’s the end of the litigation” with the city, CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said.

Both sides had hoped a report by the National Transportation Safety Board, issued in January 2005, would support their case. But in its report, the agency said it was unable to determine the cause of the July 18, 2001 derailment because much of the evidence was destroyed by the fire and flooding that followed, as well as by the emergency efforts to clean up the site as quickly as possible.

Four of the 11 cars that derailed in the Howard Street tunnel were tankers carrying flammable and hazardous chemicals. A tanker carrying tripropylene was punctured and the chemical caught fire, setting ablaze seven cars carrying paper products.

Around that same time, a 40-inch water main that ran directly above the tunnel ruptured, sending water into the tunnel, collapsing several city streets and flooding nearby buildings.

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