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Train derails in McDowell County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Heavy-equipment operators began pulling train cars upright Friday evening after a derailment earlier in the day in McDowell County.

Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said a Norfolk Southern freight train heading East derailed along U.S. 52 near Vivian at about 8 a.m.

The train was hauling hopper cars and tank cars.

Messina said Friday night that cars were being placed back on their wheels and repairs were being made to the damaged lengths of tracks.

John Sidote, public information officer for the McDowell County Office of Emergency Services, said 17 cars derailed, including 15 tankers.

Messina said the tank cars were carrying tar, which hardens quickly in contact with cold air.

He said five tankers ruptured and one was leaking into Elkhorn Creek.

Emergency officials said booms were in place to prevent tar from going any farther into the creek. 

Messina said the hardened tar could complicate cleanup efforts.

The train had five locomotives and 111 cars and was about 7,000 feet long. It was headed from Bellevue, Ohio, to Linwood, N.C.

Nobody was reported injured in the derailment, and no residents were evacuated. Sidote said the rail line runs adjacent to U.S. 52 but that the wreck did not cause the highway to be closed.

Messina said the damaged tracks are on a major artery for Norfolk Southern.

He said officials hope to get line repaired by 3 p.m. today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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