2 injured in Va. train derail after fuel tank ruptures

The railroad had special agents respond to the scene along with firefighters and local authorities

The Virginian-Pilot

SOUTHHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. — Two railroad employees were injured this morning in a train derailment along General Thomas Highway that included a diesel fuel spill and fire.

The derailment, which left one of two CSX locomotives on its side, led to a fire when a fuel tank was punctured, said Maj. Gene Drewery of the Southampton County Sheriff's Office.

One of the two injured train employees was flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital because of a loss of consciousness and back pain, Drewery said. The other employee was taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The fire is out, but crews were continuing to clean up a large diesel fuel spill midmorning.

"They'll be out there probably for days," Drewery said.

Each locomotive holds more than 8,500 gallons of fuel, he said, but only one tank ruptured, he said. The derailment happened in a wooded area with no homes nearby. No evacuations were necessary.

The train was near the Ashland chemical plant when it derailed, but there was no chemical spill, Drewery said. 

"We were lucky," Drewery said.

The derailment was reported about 2:30 a.m., according to CSX spokeswoman Carla Groleau. The two locomotives were pulling 35 cars with mixed freight when both locomotives and 10 cars went off the tracks.

The train began its trip in Portsmouth and was on its way to Rocky Mount, N.C., Groleau said.

The railroad had special agents respond to the scene along with firefighters and local authorities, she said. The cause of the incident is under investigation and could take weeks to determine.

The Federal Railroad Administration sent an inspector to the scene, said Robert B. Kulat, a spokesman. He did not yet know whether the agency will launch a formal investigation.

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