The torrential rains of Jan. 25 washed out banking along a section of the railroad line in Thomaston, cutting off supplies to two manufacturers located on the Rockland side of the washout.

The washout occurred next to the St. George River, immediately south of the former Maine State Prison property.

The line is used year-round for freight and seasonally for passenger traffic. Chemrock in Thomaston processes perlite, which is used by FMC Corporation for its manufacturing process. FMC employs about 120 people and Chemrock employs 10.

Chemrock has about two weeks of perlite on hand, said Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Ray Sisk. Another six- to seven-week supply of perlite was en route by train from Portland when the washout was discovered Jan. 26, Sisk said.

The Maine Department of Transportation is working with federal agencies to get repair started next week, said DOT Director of Rail Transportation Nate Moulton.The state needs environmental permits but he said he expects the short-term fix will begin early next week and be completed within two weeks so that engines can go past the section and serve the rail customers to the north.

There is no estimate on the cost but more should be known next week, Moulton said.

The transportation department owns the right of way that is leased by Maine Eastern Railroad.

Sisk said he is optimistic that the state will get the work done because of the potential economic impact if the work is not done in a timely manner.

The banking at the track is steep and heavy equipment may have a difficult time working on the site, he said. The washout is about 45 feet wide by the tracks and increases to 150 feet by the time the banking reaches the riverfront, Sisk said.