JEFFERSON COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Norfolk Southern, the company owning the train that derailed in the town of Bartow Sunday night, is offering community members compensation for “inconvenience and out-of-pocket expenses.” In a press release, the company said it will open a Family Assistance Center at the Jefferson County Emergency Services in Louisville. That center opened at 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, until 10 p.m. and will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The company addressed concerns from the community. The press release said, in part, “At this time, community members may smell odors related to hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid, but the levels do not pose a health risk. Environmental teams are continuously monitoring the air in Bartow and other community areas surrounding the derailment and will continue monitoring until the chemicals have been removed from the site.”
Norfolk Southern said the safety of the community and crews working on site is their number one priority. They apologized for any disruption the incident caused.
UPDATED 1:30 PM- Cleanup continued Monday at the site of a train derailment Sunday night near Bartow, GA. One security representative with Norfolk Southern, who arrived at the scene Monday morning from Atlanta, described the scene as “a war zone.” He added that there are no longer any chemicals leaking from the train cars and that crews continue the cleanup process. The man said he is there to make sure everyone stays safe during the cleanup process.
FOX 54 reporter Lex Juarez said the tracks near the derailment site were damaged, and she saw workers preparing to lay new tracks as part of the cleanup effort.
We have reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment on the cleanup effort but have not yet gotten a response.
ORIGINAL STORY- Fire and hazmat crews from across Georgia have descended on the small town of Bartow in Jefferson County after a train hauling various chemicals derailed outside the town.
Jefferson County EMA Director Jim Anderson says the crash happened between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday along Heards Bridge Rd. between Bartow and Louisville. As of now, 3 people have been reported injured; employees of the train company. Wrens Fire Chief Keith Boulineau says they have been taken to Jefferson Hospital’s emergency room for decontamination and treatment for respiratory issues.
In a statement, Jefferson Hospital CEO Lou Semrad, III said: “Sunday about 8:35 p.m., Jefferson Hospital received word that there had been a train derailment near the town of Bartow and chemicals were involved. Within minutes, the hospital initiated Code Green and began calling in additional personnel. Code Green is our designation for “disaster.” At approximately 3:00 a.m. Monday, the hospital’s Code Green was cleared. During the event, numerous individuals from the exposure area underwent a decontamination process and were treated in our emergency room.”
When the train derailed, it caused some of the chemicals being hauled to spill into the surrounding area, including hydrogen peroxide. The town of Bartow and the surrounding areas were evacuated for several hours Sunday night. Bartow Mayor Robert Morris says about 280 people were evacuated. That evacuation has since been lifted. After the train derailed, the engineers determined that there was small leak. They unhooked the train’s engines and went 4 miles down the tracks to Wadley.
Initially, crews at the scene believed the leaking chemical to be chlorine, but have since discovered that it was in fact hydrogen peroxide. Chlorine tanks are on the train, but crews on the scene say they are not leaking. Norfolk Southern has confirmed that hydrogen peroxide has been released.
A Georgia State Patrol helicopter and the Wrens Fire Chief are in the air, surveying the damage. Norfolk Southern is sending in a hazmat team. Officials at the scene hope they’ll be able to contain the leak and get the scene cleaned up quickly. Norfolk Southern has released a statement about the derailment.
Our crew on the scene says the hydrogen peroxide is causing a fog effect in the air and they can smell the strong odor.
The date of this derailment holds significance for the people in our viewing area. Fourteen years ago to the day, a train carrying chlorine derailed in Graniteville, SC, killing 9 people. Even years later, the effects of that derailment are still being felt by the still-recovering town.