WESTFORD -- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has determined that Pan Am Railways must perform what the agency calls "Immediate Response Actions" to evaluate potential threats at the site of a February train derailment.
Around 11 p.m. on Feb. 19, five Pan Am train cars -- two of which were carrying the potentially explosive chemical liquid petroleum gas -- slipped off the tracks running along an overpass through the town's Graniteville neighborhood.
A notice sent to Pan Am on March 12 advised the Billerica-based company that it is legally responsible to perform an assessment of the derailment site, to evaluate conditions including the potential for any imminent hazard or substantial migration of released substances.
"By taking prompt action, you may significantly lower your assessment and cleanup costs and avoid, or reduce the amount of, certain permit and annual compliance fees...," the notice advises.
According to MassDEP's notice, the railway company is held responsible not because of fault, but solely because of its status as "owner, operator, generator, transporter or disposer." Pan Am may be liable for all action costs, even if other parties are also deemed liable.
If the company does not take the required actions, MassDEP is authorized to have its contractors perform the work, at Pan Am's expense.
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