State DEP fines Pan Am, B&M over railroad ties

  • Railroad companies Pan Am and Boston & Maine have been ordered to pay a $90,000 fine by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for leaving old railroad ties along a line at spots in Buckland, Greenfield and Hatfield. The ties were found during routine inspections in 2015 and this year. In 2017, firefighters from 11 towns worked to fight a fire that engulfed roughly 1,500 railroad ties dumped in Northfield. The companies were also fined in 2017. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/29/2018 11:54:59 PM

GREENFIELD — Railroad companies Pan Am and Boston & Maine have been ordered to pay a $90,000 fine by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for leaving old railroad ties along a line at spots in Buckland, Greenfield and Hatfield.

MassDEP found the ties during routine inspections in 2015 and May 2018. This is only the most recent incident in the companies’ habit of abandoning old railroad ties, which MassDEP has been aware of since 1999, having received complaints and reports of fires along railroad tracks.

In 2013, the companies entered into a consent agreement with MassDEP that gives a protocol for the disposal of old materials. The $90,000 fine is for violating that agreement.

The companies were fined in 2017 for two similar violations of the consent agreement. In June 2017, a pile of railroad ties in Northfield caught fire. It took 11 fire departments from three states to put it out. Another pile in Buckland was deemed by MassDEP to be a fire risk. The two violations incurred a fine of $60,000 total.

“There has been a long, multi-year dialogue with the railroad on this issue,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield. “Pan Am and B&M have had more than enough time to come into compliance with the consent agreement and the regulations.”

Pan Am, which owns B&M, could not be reached for comment.




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