(Vivian, West Virginia – January 3, 2014)
West Virginia public safety officials were expressing concern following the derailment of 17 freight cars, including 15 tank cars loaded with tar, of a 111-car Norfolk Southern Railway train measuring 7,000 feet in length and being powered by five locomotives on its way eastbound from Belleview, OH to Linwood, NC along U.S. Highway 52 in McDowell County near Vivian, WV at about 8:00 A.M. Friday morning.
McDowell County Office of Emergency Services Public Information Officer John Sidote said that five of the tank cars ruptured in the derailment and that at least one was leaking its contents into Elkhorn Creek. Even though no roads needed to be closed nor were there any evacuations, Sidote feared that, with the frigid, sub-freezing temperatures Friday, the tar would harden quickly, complicating cleanup operations.
West Virginia Dept. of Military Affairs and Public Safety Spokesman Lawrence Messina said that re-railing operations finally began Friday afternoon and continued into Friday night as railroad crews picked up the derailed cars and repaired tracks damaged in the accident, for which no preliminary cause had been determined thus far.
The Norfolk Southern rail corridor through that part of West Virginia forms a major artery for the railroad’s extensive system. It was hoped the railroad route through McDowell County could be re-opened by late Saturday afternoon.