Clean-up, investigation of train derailment expected to take weeks

CRAMERTON, NC (WBTV) - The clean-up and investigation into a train derailment from Monday evening is expected to take weeks, WBTV has learned.

Gaston County EMS, HAZMAT, and Norfolk Southern crews responded after a train carrying LP gas derailed along 8th Avenue in Cramerton at about 4:30 p.m.

Norfolk Southern told WBTV the train had three locomotives and 121 cars. A company spokesperson said 31 cars derailed and four of them were tankers carrying liquefied petroleum (LP) gas, commonly known as propane.

None of the gas leaked from the tankers during the derailment and no one was hurt, officials told WBTV.

The train operator and a crew member were the only people involved in the accident, and emergency crews told WBTV both are OK.

A Norfolk Southern spokesperson said that the company will open a family assistance center in Cramerton Tuesday at the Cramerton Town Hall and police department, which is located at 155 N. Main Street.

The assistance center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and will reimburse residents who incurred expenses related to Monday's evacuation.

Residents should bring an ID or other documentation that shows their address. The assistance center phone number is 704-824-4337. About 50 homes were affected by the evacuation.

First responders treated the scene as hazardous because they were not sure what the tankers were carrying. The side of the derailed cars said "phosphoric acid", but WBTV has learned those cars were empty.

Norfolk Southern said the train was headed from Linwood to Macon, Georgia.

There is no word yet why the train derailed.

Some neighbors were evacuated to the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church in Cramerton, as a precaution. Others were told to stay back 150 to 200 feet from the scene. The evacuation was lifted around 7 p.m.

Sky3 has been flying over the scene and showed one of the two tracks was torn up.

The rail line is part of Norfolk Southern's Crescent Corridor mainline where freight trains can be several miles long and travel in excess of 60 miles per hour.

The investigation is expected to last for several weeks, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

One of the two tracks was reopened at 6:20 a.m. The other track sustained extensive damage and will take several days to repair, the spokesman said.

The 31 cars that derailed are being put back on the tracks and hauled away.

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