Norfolk Southern working with state to remove sulfur, damaged tank cars

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Norfolk Southern is reporting 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of molten sulfur leaked in Tuesday‘s train derailment in Blounts Creek.

Initially, Norfolk Southern told 9 On Your Side 1,000 gallons spilled, before updating to the higher number shortly after. 

In an emailed statement, Norfolk Southern’s public relations director Susan Terpay said: “twelve rail cars carrying molten sulfur derailed when a CSX train derailed early (Tuesday) morning. The 97- car CSX train was operating over Norfolk Southern tracks. An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of molten sulfur were released. Molten sulfur is transported as a liquid but cools rapidly and solidifies. Norfolk Southern will complete environmental remediation operations, which will involve removing the hardened sulfur from the soil and replacing with new soil. The product in the remaining cars will be transferred to other rail cars.”

Norfolk Southern said the hardened substance, elemental sulfur, does not post the same risk as when it is in molten form. 

The company is coordinating with the North Carolina Department of Environment Quality to remove the damaged tank cars. 

On Wednesday, 9 On Your Side captured crews repairing the tracks and spoke with a resident who lives on Stilley Station Road. 

“I really don’t have any concerns,” said Olive Jones. “We’ve even rode our bicycles about two miles down the road, and we really haven’t smelled anything. I know they are doing their best.”

Norfolk Southern said its emergency response contractor monitored the site for the release of hydrogen sulfide but didn’t find any.

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Correction: In the initial statement emailed to 9 On Your Side, Norfolk Southern provided the incorrect date of the derailment. It happened early Tuesday morning, not early Sunday morning. 

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