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Coal train derails, spills coal into West Fork tributary


West Virginia News

HAYWOOD, W.Va.  — Nine coal cars in a freight train derailed at 9:15 a.m. Thursday on Harrison Power Plant property, with two of the cars going into Robinson Run and spilling coal into the stream, which is a tributary of the West Fork River.

The other cars that derailed also spilled coal, which ended up either in the stream or on a steep bank leading to it.

That’s according to preliminary information from Jacob Glance of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

The amount of coal spilled is uncertain at this time.

The train was hauling coal from the Murray Energy-owned Harrison County Coal Mine, formerly Robinson Run Mine, according to officials.

“It was not en route to Harrison Power Station,” said Stephanie Walton, a spokeswoman for FirstEnergy, which owns the power plant. “It was a CSX train carrying Murray Energy coal. We have personnel on-site helping out.”

Gary Broadbent, director of media and investor relations for Murray Energy, said the spill’s impact on the company’s operations would depend on how fast it can be cleaned up.

“If they can get it fixed quickly and ensure that it’s not going to happen again, then it would be a marginal impact,” Broadbent said.

A CSX spokeswoman said no injuries were reported when the train derailed.

“The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and local emergency officials were promptly notified by CSX personnel, who are on site with contractors to assess the situation and remediate the site. CSX is committed to the protection of the area’s natural resources and will work diligently to restore the area,” the spokeswoman said.

The DEP has notified the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health and the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Glance said.

Questions about drinking water intakes should be directed to the Bureau for Public Health.

“DEP environmental enforcement officers are on the scene and will be conducting water sampling upstream and downstream of the derailment site. The first environmental remediation specialists with Hepaco Environmental were due on scene at 11 a.m. Enviroscience and Donahue Brothers, a train derailment response team, also is expected on scene in the early afternoon,” Glance said Thursday.

Jim Copenhaver, deputy chief of Harrison-Taylor 911, said the center is in communications and monitoring mode with officials onsite.

“CSX is running the show. We will provide any assistance we can. They have sent hazmat teams and line crews to get the cars put properly back on the tracks,” Copenhaver said. “CSX is a self-contained entity when it comes to derailment such as this.”

Harrison Sheriff Robert Matheny said there was no need for law enforcement to be dispatched to the area.

“There were no injuries or death,” Matheny said. “The cars that derailed were in an area that wasn’t causing any traffic problems or close to crossings, and with that being said, there was no need for law enforcement response.”

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