4,500 tons of coal spilled

Published 10:06 pm Monday, February 6, 2017

About 9 million pounds of coal was spilled in Suffolk during Saturday morning’s train derailment in downtown, according to a Norfolk Southern spokeswoman.

The derailment happened at the Wellons Street crossing just before 7 a.m. Saturday. The eastbound train included 161 cars loaded with coal and two locomotives, and 44 of the cars derailed.

Susan Terpay, a Norfolk Southern spokeswoman, said Norfolk Southern employees from across Virginia and as far as the operations headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., responded to the scene.

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“We called in contractors to assist with lifting the coal cars from the tracks and to recover the coal that spilled from the cars,” Terpay said Monday. “The teams worked around the clock until train operations resumed early this morning.”

Norfolk Southern began operating trains through Suffolk at 12:25 a.m. Monday, Terpay said. Freight customers were being notified of delays ranging from 24 to 60 hours for trains into and out of Norfolk.

About 95 percent of the coal had been removed from the site as of Monday afternoon, she said.

All crossings that had been blocked have now also reopened, except for the one at Wellons Street, Terpay added. Repairs to that crossing will take place on Wednesday, as will the removal of damaged rail cars from the site.

Each car carried about 110 tons of coal, Terpay said. An environmental team has been on the ground during the cleanup, and monitoring of the air surrounding the site has been ongoing, Terpay said.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.