Derailed coal train had Michigan utility plant destination


WISE COUNTY, Va. - Continuing cleanup in Wise County, Virginia after a coal train derailed this weekend. A boil water notice remains in effect with waterlines disrupted.

Saturday's derailment keeps many working this week to get the tracks and public roadways back up and operational. Norfolk Southern is working closely with Wise County Emergency Management.

"Norfolk and Southern has been on the scene since the derailment, and they have been working 24 hours to clean the derailment up, clean the roadway, and get the roadway open for the citizens," Emergency management coordinator Jessica Swinney said.

According to a railroad spokesman, two people were on board the train: a locomotive engineer and a conductor. The crew is based out of its Pocahontas division. The train was traveling on the company's St. Charles branch line, destined to a utility plant in Michigan when it derailed.

Swinney said, "There are a lot of agencies involved that have been coordinating the response."

At last report, they put together an action plan to make sure residents and emergency services have access, especially for emergency care. That plan was put into place with a trauma call.

"We understand that it's a burden for the people that can't get out of the Exeter area, but with that being said, our main concern was getting our fire and EMS apparatus up there to actually take care of the people there," Deputy fire chief Travis Anderson said.

The plan allowed Norfolk Southern to pause clean up to allow emergency responders in for the call.

Anderson said, "For them to shut down operations for us to make sure we get an ambulance and fire truck through is very important, but they are working tirelessly around the clock to get everything cleared."

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation. Norfolk Southern officials say the most common causes are track defects, human or mechanical error, or a combination of those.

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