A train carrying coal has derailed in the town of Appalachia, just west of Andover, VA on Exeter Road Saturday night around 8:40 pm.
Norfolk Southern and response crews were on the scene Sunday morning. Wise County emergency crews were also on site monitoring.
This is less than a month after a train derailed in the North Knoxville area. No injuries occurred in that derailment.
38 cars derailed. Four cars overturned into Pigeon Creek, spilling an estimated 400 tons of coal into the creek. Six other cars turned over on the bank of the creek. Norfolk Southern is working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to minimize any impact on the local waterways.
Norfolk Southern and environmental specialists are using absorbent booms, silt fencing and hay bales to catch and contain the coal which spilled into the creek. Excavators and vacuum trucks will also be used to remove the coal.
The 2,800 foot long, 7,000 ton train was carrying a large amount of coal which is now being cleaned up.
Backhoes, front loaders and dump trucks are being brought in to remove the coal the cars were carrying.
No injuries have been reported and there is no word yet on what caused the derailment.
According to a tweet from the Virginia Department of Transportation, Exeter Road (RT 68) will remain closed for several days for cleanup and repairs. VDOT and railway crews will need to inspect the road and crossing for any damage before it can reopen.
Norfolk Southern released a statement through their public relations manager, Jon Hope which said:
"Norfolk Southern on Sunday is continuing cleanup and recovery efforts following a coal train derailment Saturday night on a rail line just west of Andover, Va., in Wise County.
The 2,800-foot-long, 7,000-ton train, consisting of three locomotives and 54 rail cars, derailed 38 cars. Four rail cars overturned into Pigeon Creek, spilling an estimated 400 tons of coal into the creek. Six other cars turned over on the bank of the creek.
Norfolk Southern is working closely with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to minimize impacts to the waterway. NS and contract environmental specialists have installed absorbent booms, silt fencing, and hay bales to catch coal particulates and contain the coal. The creek is about 10 to 15 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep at the derailment site. NS will use excavators and vacuum trucks to remove the coal from the creek and begin implementing a remediation plan to restore the waterway to VDEQ environmental standards.
The derailment has blocked a road crossing on Exeter Road. Norfolk Southern has two companies that specialize in emergency response on site working to re-rail or move damaged coal cars to clear the crossing. NS is coordinating efforts with local and state officials, including the State Highway Patrol and the Virginia Department of Transportation. NS hopes to have the crossing cleared of debris later Sunday afternoon. However, it’s not known now when the crossing will be reopened to traffic, pending a close assessment of damage to the track and roadway through the crossing.
The cause of the derailment, which occurred at 8:40 p.m. Saturday, remains under investigation. No injuries were reported.
Norfolk Southern regrets that this incident occurred, and we apologize for the disruption to the local community, especially to motorists who rely on Exeter Road. NS’ priority and focus is to remove rail cars and coal from Pigeon Creek and clear the crossing as soon as possible. NS appreciates the cooperation and professional response of local and state officials who have assisted."
This is a developing story. Our sister station WCYB in the Tri-Cities has a crew on the scene and is talking to Norfolk Southern. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.