Norfolk Southern announces cause of S.C. derailment

A Norfolk Southern train passes northbound through Spring City. (Photo by Dean Wilson Rhea Review)

City officials acknowledge Railroad and First Responders for quick action.

Motorist are traveling up and down Rhea County Highway around the Spring City Depot Station every day. Citizens are walking about on Front Street. With everyone going about their daily routine, there is little to show that just four months ago the area was littered about with twisted metal wreckage and spilled coal from a derailed train.

On the evening of July 28, 2016 at approximately 9 pm, a northbound Norfolk Southern train derailed in the vicinity of the depot station. The train, consisting of three locomotives and 122 train cars, was hauling coal.

By the time the train had come to a halt, 49 of the cars had left the track and had either flipped or turned over, spilling thousands of tons of coal all up and down the railroad right away.

The Spring City Police & Fire Departments, along with emergency first responders from around the county, immediately converged on the scene. It was decided that it was necessary to close parts of Rhea County highway and Front Street for the public’s safety.

Norfolk Southern officials responded to the call and arrived right away. Norfolk Southern’s derailment cleanup crews were on the scene by early morning hours. The cleanup operation began immediately. The crews worked around the clock for days clearing the track of the wreckage so the next arriving crews could begin laying new track. By Saturday night, the mainline was back in service. Rail traffic was rerouted by railroad officials to minimize the impact on the effected area.

This past week Norfolk Southern Director of Public Relations, Susan Terpay, stated in an e-mail that Norfolk Southern had released the cause of the derailment. Terpay says that in the preliminary investigation, it has been determined that a defective wheel on a privately owned coal car caused the rail to break and the cars to derail.

In a recent phone interview, Spring City Manager Stephania Motes stated that all is back to normal along the railroad line downtown. We are so happy and pleased with the professional response we received from Norfolk Southern. But most of all, we are so fortunate that no one was hurt in the incident.

Motes stated that after being notified of the derailment, she was driving to town and all she could imagine was the worst. She had expected to see the derailed train scattered all up and down front street crashed into business. Upon her arrival, she was relieved to see that even though the damage was great, it was confined to the right away of the Railroad’s property.

Stephania Motes says that on behalf of the entire Spring City Commission, we would like to thank Norfolk Southern Railroad and their entire crew for the swift and professional way in which they responded to the incident and handled the cleanup. They didn’t leave a half way cleaned up job, instead they left it completely cleaned, restored, juat as it was before the derailment.

A special thanks to the men and women of the Spring City Police & Fire Departments for their quick and  professional response to the scene.

We would also like to thank Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal, Rhea County Executive George Thacker, Emergency Management Director Jackie Reavley for their assistance.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all the first responders from various agencies who worked tirelessly around the clock.

Spring City, Tennessee is a very blessed community in which to live. It is a place where everyone cares about one another.

View The Derailment Photos Archive In The Gallery Below

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