Freight Cars Derail Along Lehigh River in Pennsylvania


Several freight train cars derailed onto the banks of the Lehigh River, a tributary of the Delaware River, in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the authorities said. No injuries or leaks were reported.

Northampton County Emergency Management Services and the Lehigh County hazardous materials team responded to the derailment in Lower Saucon Township, Pa., about 10 miles east of Allentown, and were evaluating the damage.

There were “no evacuations, no injuries and no leaks from any containers,” Northampton County said on its Facebook page.

Pictures of the derailment, which occurred just before 8 a.m., shared on social media show two locomotives on the banks of the river, one of them partially submerged, and several container cars derailed.

“The most important thing we can do for our first responders is stay away from the site,” the county wrote in capital letters.

Northampton County Emergency Management Services did not immediately respond to a request for information.

Norfolk Southern, the railroad company that was operating the train, was also at the site of the derailment conducting an assessment, the county said. Norfolk Southern, which owns the Lehigh Line, a major freight railroad route that snakes through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Lehigh River provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, and as a tributary of the Delaware River, it contributes to a drinking water supply for 15 million people, according to American Rivers, an environmental nonprofit.

In January, Norfolk Southern agreed to join a federal safety reporting program after scrutiny of the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in February 2023. In that crash, dozens of freight cars carrying hazardous materials derailed and caught fire, enveloping the city with toxic smoke and contaminating drinking water supplies.

From 2018 to 2022, Northampton County recorded 26 rail accidents or incidents resulting in 13 reported injuries and no fatalities, according to a hazardous mitigation plan.

The Lehigh Valley, an historically agricultural region, has been developing in recent years into a hub for warehouses.

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