- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

BALTIMORE – CSX Transportation yesterday agreed to pay overtime costs for fire, police and some public works crews that responded to the freight- train derailment last week that paralyzed the city.
CSX spokesman Rob Gould, however, stressed that the payment was "in no way an acknowledgment of fault" for the accident.
Initial estimates put the entire cost of the emergency operation, including overtime costs, at $1.3 million, said Tony White, a spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley.
The amount of the payment has not yet been determined. City officials plan to provide the company with a figure in several days and the company will write a check within a day of receiving notice of the amount, Mr. Gould said.
CSX also is reviewing claims from 25 businesses along the Howard Street corridor, which may be compensated for business losses, the company spokesman said.
City Solicitor Thurman Zollicoffer said before yesterday's 10:30 a.m. meeting that, while the amount had not been determined, the cost is "going to be enormous."
The meeting was held as a federal investigation continues into the cause of the derailment, with city officials denying that a water-main break may have been responsible for the accident. If the main is found to have been responsible, liability for the derailment and the cost of repair and clean up could rest with the city.
Mr. O'Malley, who attended the meeting, said the city is cooperating fully with federal transportation investigators and is not worried about the results of the federal investigation.
"We really don't fear in the least the time sequence," Mr. O'Malley said about speculation the main broke, or was leaking, before the train derailed.
The mayor, however, said he did not want to speculate on the cause of the accident. "I think the facts will speak for themselves," Mr. O'Malley said.
The mayor said CSX has agreed to at least pay for the emergency response to the derailment, fire and acid spill, and perhaps more.
CSX wrote an open letter to the city in yesterday's editions of the Baltimore Sun, thanking emergency personnel for their "tireless efforts, leadership and professionalism" and thanking the community for its patience.
"We realize that the accident disrupted life in Baltimore," wrote CSX President Michael Ward, a Baltimore native. "We're working hard to address and resolve those issues as quickly as possible."
Traffic on the rail line, meanwhile, returned to normal yesterday after freight trains rumbled through the downtown tunnel Tuesday for the first time since the derailment.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reviewed city public works department records to help learn whether water gushing from the broken main damaged the track in the tunnel and caused the 60-car CSX train to derail last Wednesday crash.
Jay Kivowitz, the lead NTSB investigator, said Tuesday that several bricks had been knocked out of the tunnel wall and an "earthy" material was scattered over the tracks near the water main. But Mr. Kivowitz said he did not know whether those conditions existed before the derailment.
He also said an unidentified substance found on top of several cars was sent to laboratories for analysis.
"We'd like to know what that material was, how it got there and when did it get there," Mr. Kivowitz said. "Did it get there before the accident or after the accident?"
The accident caused a fire and an acid spill that brought much of the city to a standstill, halting all traffic for hours and prompting the postponement of three Baltimore Orioles baseball games.
After the last smoldering rail car was dragged out on Monday, inspectors went through the tunnel. The inspection did not uncover any obvious pre-existing defects in the rails or in the freight cars.
City officials released data showing a surge in water movement at a nearby reservoir after the derailment, which they said suggested the break followed the accident.
The NTSB on Monday requested city records on the water main, and the mayor's spokesman, Mr. White, said Baltimore complied immediately. The agency confirmed that the city has been cooperating. The NTSB had prepared a subpoena, but it was not served.
"It was just a precautionary measure we do with all investigations," NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. "All investigative material requested from the city has been given to us."
The NTSB sent a pipeline specialist and a metallurgist to examine the water main, which lies directly atop the tunnel ceiling.
Tempers flared Tuesday when an NTSB manager stopped city repair crews from cutting a piece of the water line.
"These guys are wound up like springs waiting to get in there," public works spokesman Bob Murrow said. "It was real easy in the beginning, everyone was cooperating. Now there's all this finger-pointing and talk of litigation."

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