GENEVA — Crews are continuing to monitor a train derailment that happened Monday afternoon in a rural part of Lincoln County.
Lincoln Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said 14 cars of a southbound Norfolk-Southern train carrying a total of 42 containers left the rails about 1 p.m. on a stretch of track parallel to Geneva-McKinney Road between the Geneva and McKinney communities about 8 miles west of Stanford. The engine did not derail, and no injuries were reported, Gilliam said.
Ann Walls, who lives on a hill overlooking the tracks, was home with her granddaughter Kristi shortly after 1 p.m. when they heard the crash. They went to the tracks on an all-terrain vehicle to see what had happened and if anyone needed help.
“We thought it must have hit a car,” Walls said. “We heard all the noise and thought someone might have been killed. When we got down there, the (rail) cars were all the way up against the fence and there was dust still in the air. It really was scary.”
Gilliam said there is no reason to believe any harmful airborne contaminants were released during the crash, but five railcars that derailed were carrying small amounts of potentially hazardous substances, including fertilizer and detergent.
Gilliam said some detergent was vacuumed from a creek near the tracks Monday night, and local authorities will continue to look at whether any other substances got into other water sources. He said representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency have been at the scene and found no evidence of contamination so far.
The 35-car train also was carrying a variety of cargo, including UPS commercial freight containers. Although it may seem harmless, Gilliam said candy and large amounts of mayonnaise will have to be specially cleaned up because of state health laws.
Equipment owned by R.J. Corman Co. and used to move railcars arrived Monday evening from Tennessee and had most of the railcars off the track by this morning. Gilliam said one of two tracks already is open, but it is uncertain whether the derailed cars will be cleared from the area today.
The cause of the derailment has not been determined, but Gilliam said there was speculation from company officials that the extreme heat may have played a role. He said it is possible the track could have cooled quickly during a brief rain shower and become extremely hot again, causing it to buckle. Some work also had been done on railroad crossings recently.