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Another derailment at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant

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By The Staff

STAFF REPORTS

An inconvenience, but not a health hazard. That’s how Roane County Emergency Management Director Howie Rose described Wednesday evening’s train derailment at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant.

After being closed through the night by TVA police, Swan Pond Road was clear and reopened to traffic at 5:40 a.m. Thursday morning, the agency reported.

Rose said Norfolk Southern was moving some empty railcars into the plant to be loaded with ash when a switch malfunctioned.

“It derailed three empty hopper cars,” Rose said. “They’ve got Swan Pond Road blocked with a train. Swan Pond is going to be closed probably until noon (Thursday) at the earliest.”

TVA's brief account of the accident was slightly different. The agency reported two cars had derailed, and it blamed "operator error" while the train was backing up to be put in position for loading operations the next day.

The railcars are part of TVA’s ongoing efforts to clean up the mess caused by the ash spill. More than 5 million cubic yards of ash was released into the environment when a dike at the plant gave way last December.

Railcars are being used to ship ash from the fossil plant to a landfill in Perry County, Ala. The ash is so toxic that the trains carrying the ash have to be marked with placards that indicate environmentally hazardous substances on board.

Rose said no ash was spilled in the derailment.

“The cars that derailed were empty,” Rose said. “They were going into the plant to be filled.”

This isn’t the first time a derailment has happened during the ash disaster cleanup. One was also reported in July, shortly after new rail spurs were built to handle the extra train traffic.