JEFFERSON COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - The investigation in Bartow continues as the cause of a train derailment is still unknown. Thirty-seven train cars derailed on Sunday night, leading to an evacuation of neighboring towns and even sending some people to the hospital.
Two days later, Norfolk Southern and the town held a press conference.
There are five derailed train cars, all filled with chlorine, still left on this track. You can see that light down there. That’s where crews are working to get it all cleaned up and I’m told it will be cleaned up by Wednesday morning.
“Everything is going very well, it’s very safe on the property where we are making this clean up happen.” says Greg Comstock, General Manager of Norfolk Southern.
Just two days ago, that wasn’t the case. A derailed train led to a chemical spill and an emergency evacuation of the towns of Bartow and Wadley. Twenty-six people were sent to the hospital.
Jefferson Hospiatl CEO Lou Cemrad says those injuries were not severe. “Respiratory difficulty. nobody coded. It wasn’t that severe." Five of the 26 injured were sent to Doctors Hospital.
There were 13 crashed rail cars that contained chlorine, but none of them leaked. Turns out it was hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide in the air; much less severe than chlorine.
Norfolk Southern continues clearing the cars from the track. “We have a perimeter set up. It’s about a 9 square mile perimeter, to check the air conditions related to any hydro hazmatic chemicals that could be released and effect the community.”
The next step will be checking the soil and nearby water sources for contamination. Despite the mess and uproar the crash caused in the community, leaders are commending efforts by Norfolk Southern. County Chairman Mitchell McGraw says, “They’ve been very diligent to come to Jefferson County and take care of the citizens and the problem that we had.”
And as the investigation continues into what caused this accident, Norfolk Southern tells me they are already working on ways to prevent an accident like this from happening again. Norfolk Southern and the FRA are investigating the crash. It could take weeks to find out a cause.