Mayor of Bristol is upset with the handling of July train derailment

Published on Tuesday, 10 September 2019 19:35


BRISTOL - Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is not happy with the way Pan Am Railways handled the derailment of one of its trains here in July.

Six train cars toppled over and ended up on their side as the freight train was passing through Bristol early on July 10. Police said the incident was reported around 6 a.m., when the seven-car train partially came off the rails in the area of Riverside Avenue and Mellen Street.

The cars were carrying trash from Waterbury and Naugatuck, Zoppo-Sassu said.

“They left trash up on the tracks for like three weeks and I had to get Sen. Richard Blumenthal involved. We went up and looked after the derailment. It didn’t smell much but it was so much just trash, like when you empty your garbage. They were taking it to be processed out of state, because we don’t have the capacity to handle our recyclables here anymore.”

Even after Pan Am cleaned it up, she was not happy with the job the regional railway company did.

Zoppo-Sassu said recently when Blumenthal was back in town for The Elms veterans housing opening, she said they went to look at the site again.

“It’s better but there’s still debris,” she said, comparing it to telling a teenager to clean up their room and not being satisfied with the results.

She said she is also displeased with the condition of the railroad crossing at Routes 6 and 69, and the trestles over Route 6 and other roads in town, citing graffiti and weeds growing.

“It’s not a good look,” she said. “It’s their responsibility but they don’t do anything with them, so I’ve been sending the Public Works crews out to take care of them.”

“We’re trying to bring Pan Am in to foster a better relationship after the derailment, but we’re waiting to hear from them,” she added.

A call to Pan Am was not immediately returned.

The police report from July said the train conductor did not initially realize a car had derailed, causing more cars to tip over. The six cars were left on their side in the area of Hooker Court. No injuries were reported, and police said there were no hazmat concerns. Mellen Street was initially closed to traffic but reopened later in the morning.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Lt. Geoffrey Lund at the time.

Cynthia Scarano, Pan Am executive vice president, said at the time that the train was carrying trash and scrap metal. She said the train was headed to Deerfield, Mass., and derailments like this are fairly rare.

It took several days to get the train flipped back on its wheels and taken away. No cause for the derailment has been released and the National Transportation Safety Board has not issued a report on the incident.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 10 September 2019 19:35. Updated: Tuesday, 10 September 2019 19:37.