Sandwich Academy Grant Township Train Derailment

On this Page:


On Saturday, April 15, 2023, a Canadian Pacific freight train derailed due to a rail-line washout in Sandwich Academy Grant Township in Somerset County. The aftermath of the derailment prompted a difficult cleanup overseen by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to remove the wreckage and minimize the environmental damage caused by the diesel, hydraulic fluid, and engine oil spillage and disturbed soils resulting from the cleanup efforts. The Moose River, a tributary to Little Brassua Lake, was and continues to be impacted by the derailment.

As of Friday, May 5, the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) has taken over oversight of the restoration efforts. The LUPC will steer the effort toward a successful outcome as an inter-agency project manager. Though the timeline for completing this vital work is still unknown, this web resource will be a platform to relay updates on the project's progress.

Updates on Key Efforts


  • Once the plan is accepted for processing by the LUPC, it will be made available to the public on this page.

June 2024

  • The LUPC anticipates the restoration plan to be finalized and submitted.

Spring 2024

  • CPKC and their representatives have collaborated with LUPC staff in the development of a comprehensive restoration plan for the derailment site. Pre-submission discussions are ongoing.

November 28, 2023 – Cleanup project update

  • LUPC and MFS staff have visited the derailment site and associated access roads.
  • The site was found to be acceptable with winter stabilization established. All regulatory issues relating to the access roads have been addressed and MFS will revisit the site in the spring to ensure that stabilization efforts were effective.
  • LUPC staff are currently in the final review process of the derailment site restoration plan.
  • Derailment site restoration work timing is anticipated for this spring.

August 10, 2023 – Cleanup project update

  • A soil remediation report submitted by CPKCR is currently under review by DEP staff. A natural resource restoration plan is anticipated to be submitted to LUPC this week for review.
  • This fall, an underflow dam still in place at the derailment site will need to be removed; DEP response employees will be present when that work is done. Since the area would generally be sufficiently dried out to allow removal in August, the Department had initially planned for removal this month. However, the removal timeframe was revised because of this summer's heavy rain events.
  • The railroad received a Notice of Violation (NOV) from DEP and MOV from MFS/LUPC; therefore, this is still an active enforcement matter for both Departments.
  • MFS and LUPC staff have been actively monitoring the site and all affected areas and will continue until restoration work is implemented and completed.

May 12, 2023 – Cleanup project update

The derailment site conditions have significantly improved due to warm and dry weather. Important updates include:

  • On Monday (May 8), LUPC and MDEP held a virtual meeting to discuss plans for rail crossing culvert replacement and soil sampling procedures.
  • On Wednesday, during culvert replacement, CPKC ensured that LUPC and MDEP could observe key stages of the process, including the removal of culverts, excavation, and sampling before new culverts were installed.
  • The excavated soil had minimal sheening/fuel discoloration and a diesel fuel smell, which was expected.
  • Additional train parts, including locomotive trucks, were removed under the temporary culverts.
  • MDEP requirements were followed throughout the process.
  • All locomotives have been scrapped and removed, except for one remaining locomotive engine that will be removed soon. The process involves moving the wreckage to a safe location, cutting the metal into smaller pieces, and eventually transporting them off-site. Dismantling the remaining equipment is a top priority, with precautions taken to prevent further leakage.
  • Soil removal is estimated to be completed by the end of this week or early next week.
  • Violation notices and site visits by MFS and LUPC staff led to installing effective sediment and erosion control measures on the access roads. CPKC inspects these measures daily while MFS staff visits the site as needed on the ground and from the air.
  • The main access road from Demo Road to the derailment site, approximately 2.8 miles long, is no longer in use. It was recently smoothed using heavy equipment to remove ruts and prepare for extensive repairs. Mulch hay stabilized exposed soil outside the road's travel surface.
  • MFS is leading landowner relations and maintains regular communication with Weyerhaeuser, the landowner, regarding the sedimentation and erosion control response. A site visit is scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2023, involving CPKC, Weyerhaeuser, and MFS staff to discuss road rehabilitation plans, permanent stabilization requirements, and applicable legal standards.
  • The Demo Road is currently accessible only with 4-wheel drive vehicles. Significant road work is necessary to restore it to its pre-derailment condition. Temporary erosion control measures have been implemented, but additional steps are needed to stabilize the road, ditches, and Moose River bridge approaches permanently.
  • Several miles east of the Demo Road, a secondary access road is now used to reach the derailment site, primarily by pickup traffic. CPKC and MFS actively monitor this road to prevent additional sedimentation and erosion issues. Equipment began grading and maintaining this road for continued access to the site starting on Wednesday.

May 5, 2023 – Cleanup project snapshot

  • Last week, soil removal operations at the site were temporarily halted due to an impending severe rainstorm. After the storm, it was discovered that water in the area still contained a significant amount of silt. Crews are working to remove free product from the upstream area of the tracks and patrolling the stream for emulsified oil/fuel product.
  • Dismantling the remaining locomotives is a top priority, and one badly burned locomotive was safely scrapped last Wednesday. The process involves moving the wreckage to a safe location and cutting the metal into smaller pieces for eventual transportation off-site, with precautions taken to prevent further leakage.
  • The DEP Technical Services team is onsite to coordinate with railway personnel on soil testing and defining the impacted area for the greatest possible cleanup.
  • DEP will continue managing and approving initial remediation actions while LUPC coordinates and communicates with other state agencies involved in the effort.
  • Floating silt booms and oil containment booms are still deployed in Little Brassua Lake downstream from the site.

May 4, 2023 – LUPC, MFS, and DEP staff met with CPKC staff and representatives at the site to address the Notice of Violation (issued April 27, 2023) and to urge CPKC to submit an action plan for erosion and sedimentation best management practices on the main haul road used by CPKC to transport heavy equipment and materials to the site, to minimize the risk of further sedimentation to water resources in the area. Also, the DEP Response Division requires an addition to the Impacted Soil and Sorbent Transportation Plan, specific to measures being employed during soil removal operations to prevent erosion and manage silt created in the process.

April 27, 2023 – Maine Forest Service (MFS) and LUPC issued a Joint Notice of Violation to CPKC with the assistance of Maine DEP. This news release includes a cleanup effort update. 

Earlier that day, LUPC and MFS staff conducted an aerial inspection of the site via a MFS helicopter.

April 25, 2023 – LUPC staff visited the site in response to a complaint about sedimentation entering Little Brassua lake.

April 19, 2023 – LUPC staff conducted an initial visit to the site with MDEP staff.

Documents, Events, and Chronology

Date Project Update or Event File Links
April 27, 2023 LUPC/MFS NOV to CPKC
April 27, 2023 MDEP Second Letter to CPKC
April 20, 2023 MDEP Letter to CPKC


November 2023

Cove of Little Brassua Lake, clear of booms - 11/7/2023 Stream below derailment site flowing into Little Brassua Lake - 11/7/2023 Stabilized site of derailment area looking downstream - 11/7/2023 Stream and site stable - 11/7/2023 Inlet of new culverts  - 11/7/2023 Stabilized derailment area, site of engine fire - 11/7/2023 Upland access area stabilized - 11/7/2023

April/May 2023

Installed crossing - 05/11/2023 Installed crossing - 05/11/2023 Culvert construction - 05/10/2023 Derailment site, disturbed soils, timbers for heavy equipment mats - 05/3/2023 Derailed locomotive, cleanup progress - 05/3/2023 Derailed locomotive, cleanup progress - 05/02/2023 Absorbent booms at Moose River, tributary to Little Brassua Lake - 05/02/2023 Absorbent booms at Moose River, tributary to Little Brassua Lake - 05/02/2023 Derailed boxcar, debris, saturated soils - 04/19/2023 Scene immediately following the derailment - 04/17/2023 Scene immediately following the derailment - 04/17/2023 Scene immediately following the derailment - 04/17/2023 Derailment scene - 04/15/2023