Coal spill cleanup underway

train cleanup

WISE COUNTY, Va. - Cleanup is underway in Wise County, where a train carrying coal derailed this weekend.

Norfolk Southern says more than 400 tons of coal spilled into Pigeon Creek.

Now, there's silk fencing up and hay bales in place to absorb the coal and stop it from spreading.

"Coal can affect fish and other smaller aquatic creatures in the water. The coal itself could smother them," explained Department of Environmental Quality Spokesperson Bill Hayden.

The creek runs into the Powell River. At this time the Wise County Department of Health says the drinking water that comes from the river has not been contaminated.

Some residents in the area aren't too worried.

"I know coal's not really going to hurt anything... If it had been oil or something in it, it would be different. But if it's just coal, we're used to it," said resident Ronnie Wallen.

"Around here, where the water comes out of the ground, it's going through coal anyway," said resident Hank Laawson.

The DEQ says it's too soon to tell if Norfolk Southern will be fined for the spill.

"It would depend on whether any fish were killed, if there were any environmental harm from the coal itself. Technically it's not legal to put any foreign material into a stream," Said Hayden.

Norfolk Southern hopes to have debris cleared from the road on Tuesday, so HWY 68 can begin to reopen.

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