MOHAWK - Emergency crews were cleaning up wreckage this afternoon after two CSX freight trains hit each other this morning, causing more than 20 cars to go off the tracks near Route 5, just west of Fonda.
The crash, which occurred around 8 a.m., threw one car into the highway. Authorities closed a 12-mile stretch of Route 5 after the derailment. Fonda Mayor Bill Peeler said this afternoon the highway could reopen in 24 to 36 hours.
Authorities said the two trains brushed against each other while they were passing each other in opposite directions on parallel tracks, resulting in the derailment.
Workers walk on one of the train cars, which was embedded into the soil embankment on Route 5 at the scene of a derailment in Mohawk today.
(Photo for the Enterprise — Bill Trojan)
Early today, authorities said one of the cars leaked some type of material. They later determined the material posed no safety hazard. Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato said this afternoon the material consisted of beads or pellets believed to be made of plastic.
No fatalities were reported in the derailment, but two people working on the trains were injured, officials said. Amato said a conductor and an engineer received minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital. He couldn't say whether those injured were on the same or different trains.
Authorities closed Route 5 from Fonda to Palatine until further notice. The media originally were permitted to be about 100 yards from the crash site this morning, but when CSX personnel arrived, they asked all non-emergency personnel to go about a mile farther down the road near the Kateri Shrine.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Adam Schwabrow said the two trains collided near Martin Road.
One train was heading east and the other west, said Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato.
Amato said authorities were trying to determine why the collision occurred.
Schwabrow said one of the trains was damaged extensively.
Hazardous-material teams went to the scene. Several tanker cars were attached to one of the trains.
As a precaution, people living within 1,000 feet of the leak were told to remain inside until authorities could examine the materials that came out of the trains.
Officials said one of the trains was transporting chemicals, but that part of the train remained secure during the accident.
Amato said two conductors, an engineer and other railroad personnel were on the two trains.
Amato said only one car went onto Route 5.
He said it may take a while to determine the cause of the crash.
He said trains will have to come into the area to remove the wreckage. He said this morning helicopters would take aerial photos to further assess the situation.
Amato said authorities will have to determine which cars to remove first.
A long line of flatbed trucks carrying cranes and other construction material were on the scene this afternoon to begin removing some of the wreckage.
Mayor Peeler said much of the public traffic would be diverted through Fultonville.
"It's going to put a bit more of a burden of the village of Fultonville," Peeler said.
Amtrak, which also uses the tracks for passenger service, has been affected by the derailment.
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said today Amtrak is canceling some of the train service west of Albany because of the derailment. In some cases, Amtrak is busing passengers.
Cole said four trains normally use the line every day in each direction.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was scheduled to visit the crash site late this afternoon.