WESTFORD -- The May 6 meeting between local officials and Pan Am Railways will go beyond the Feb. 19 train derailment, and also focus on the need for track repairs and herbicide spraying, Town Manager Jodi Ross said.

Ross said she doesn't want the meeting to focus on the past, but on how to move forward and improve communication with the Billerica-based rail company.

"I think that in that communication improvement, we'd like to know exactly what products are being transported through the town and also understand the condition of the rails," Ross said. "We've heard they're in poor condition."

Further, Pan Am will start spraying near Stony Brook from May 1 to July 1 to "control nuisance vegetation" in the ballast portion of the railroad right-of-way and also near switches and signals.

"We don't use pesticides according to our town policy," Ross said, "but we don't have any jurisdiction on what the rail does on their (area)."

Relations have been tense between local officials and the company since five cars carrying liquid petroleum gas hopped the tracks. Town officials were not notified, and learned about the incident when Fire Chief Joe Targ drove by the next morning. Ross has said she and Targ were threatened with arrest for trespassing at the site.

She said she has not heard from Pan Am since that day.

Pan Am has been cited with a wide gauge track issue which typically carries a $5,000 fine from the Federal Railroad Administration. The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the company to evaluate whether Stony Brook was contaminated.

The meeting will include the town's representatives on Beacon Hill, state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell, and Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford. plus representatives of U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Niki Tsongas. Markey's spokesman, Eben Burnham-Snyder, said Pan Am responded in a timely manner to their requests for scheduling the meeting in Westford.

"I'm certainly hopeful getting all the necessary parties around the table we can come up with a game plan and understanding as to how these incidents will be handled," Donoghue said. "This last incident underscores the need for that."

In a statement to The Sun, Tsongas said she and her colleagues want Pan Am to discuss this matter in a more "open manner."

"The goal is for transparency and open communication to assuage lingering public safety concerns related to derailment, as well as to give the community a chance to address all its questions about the overall health, environmental and safety impact of the Pan Am line," she said.

Arciero added he is pleased to have the opportunity to express his "strong concerns" face-to-face with Pan Am next month.

"It's clearly unacceptable that such an incident as serious as a train derailment would not automatically trigger notification of state and local officials," he said. "Protection of public safety and water supply of the residents of the town is a non-negotiable point."

Ross noted Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen will sit in as well, but

The meeting with Pan Am will be held on May 6 at 3 p.m. in Town Hall. Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to email Ross directly at jross@westfordma.gov.

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