North Carolina

Cleanup efforts continue after 36 train cars full of coal derail in Great Dismal Swamp

Train cars full of coal went off the tracks in the Great Dismal Swamp this week.

The 36 Norfolk Southern train cars derailed at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday “in the boundaries of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge,” near the Suffolk and Chesapeake border in Virginia, according to Norfolk Southern.

The company said no one was injured and that the coal spill is “confined to a relatively small area” and isn’t impacting a major waterway.

Cleanup efforts are ongoing.

Norfolk Southern is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the spill and to restore the environment, the company said.

The Great Dismal Swamp is federally protected and important to the environment, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Chris Lowie, the refuge manager, told The Virginian-Pilot that there is concern about the 3,600 tons of coal he says were spilled getting into the water.

“The coal itself is not a hazardous material,” Lowie said “But when it does get in the water and there are heavy metals, it can leach out of the coal and into the water.”

He told the media outlet work is being done to get the spill cleaned up as soon as possible.

“We all want it out of there as fast as possible, but there is a process to follow,” he said.

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Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.