A train passing in front of Walmart in Aberdeen derailed late Friday night, leaving seven cars blocking an entrance to the store.
The 101-car train came off the tracks at about 11:50 p.m. Friday, Puget Sound and Pacific General Manager Larry Sorensen said.
The train extends over the rail bridge near the Guest House Inn & Suites, blocking the Heron Street entrance. Most of the cars have been moved near Morrison Riverfront Park and are out of the way of traffic.
Traffic can still move in and out of the Olympic Gateway Mall through one of the other entrances and exits. Rail signs are activated at that exits because of the blockage. The rail itself appeared to be bowed off the rail bridge.
Sorensen said the railroad hopes to start getting cars back on the track by about 10 a.m.
“We’re putting a plan together, we’ve got all our in-house forces assembled,” Sorensen said. “We’re probably looking 24 to 36 hours” until complete clean-up.
“We’re just ensuring the area’s secured and safe not only for our employees but for the public as well,” he added.
The cars contain dried distillers grains headed to the Port of Grays Harbor. Sorensen said indication Saturday morning is the train was traveling about 5 to 6 miles per hour when it derailed. Damage to the cars appears to be minimal, with a small amount of the grain spilled.
This is the second derailment in as many weeks in Aberdeen. Five grain cars came off the tracks at South Washington Street just south of State Street April 29.
Asked if there’s any concern about local rail lines, Sorensen said, “No, the rail system in Puget Sound and Pacific is very safe and efficient. It’s just an unfortunate incident that occurred last evening and we’re making progress and steps to remove any issues going forward.”
“Given the PSAP’s safety record, the two derailments this week are obviously an aberration, but occurred at very low speeds with no injuries or damage to non-railroad property,” said Genesee & Wyoming Director of Corporate Communications Michael Williams. “Causes are being investigated. Safety is always our top priority, and the railroad obviously takes these incidents very seriously.”
Genesee & Wyoming is the parent company of Puget Sound & Pacific.
The cause of the current derailment is under investigation.
“Last week looked like it was soft ground, just due to the amount of rain we’ve had. Essentially the right of way was saturated with water,” Sorensen said. “We’re looking at that right now and tracing the steps and doing the investigation. We should have at least a reasonable cause.”