CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - Federal and state crews continue working to clean up a1,700-gallon diesel fuel spill in the Intracoastal Waterway inChesapeake after a train engine derailed from a bridge over thewater at 5 a.m. Friday.
The railroad bridge that spans the waterway was in the upposition when the Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad train tried tocross. The engine stopped just beyond the end of the tracks andremained hanging over the edge.
Capt. John Little with the U.S. Coast Guard told WAVY.com,“As it approached the bridge and passed through a couple ofbarriers, one of those barriers breached the dieseltanks.”
As of 6 p.m. Friday, crews had removed more than 500 gallons ofthe diesel fuel from the water. Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gore with the USCGtold WAVY.com crews used a large boom to contain the spill and thena skimmer to remove as much diesel as possible.
The crash and initial response startled people who live at theedge of the tracks.
“My daughter said she heard something and knew somethingwas up," said George Midgette. "I got up, looked through the windowand I saw a helicopter with a search light. I thought they werechasing somebody.”
Midgette and his wife Anita can watch the trains run throughtheir backyard daily. They say they usually see a bridge operatorjust ahead of the engine.
“Right on the other side of the tracks is the road heuses. The bridge is always up, until the train is coming and thenthe bridge tender will come and put the bridge down and the traingoes by,” Anita said.
But it is still not clear what happened to cause the accident.Investigators are trying to learn why the engine kept moving untilits wheels hung in the air and its fuel spilled into the water.
According to Federal Railway Administration guidelines,investigators will interview the train engineer and conductor. Bothwork for Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad, which is owned by RailAmerica.
A spokesperson for the company sent WAVY a news releaseacknowledging the incident and stating:
"The railroad is working closely with appropriate local andnational agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, to clean up thespill. No one was injured during the incident and public health isnot threatened. Service updates will be provided to customers asinformation is available."
It is still not clear how long it will take to get thelocomotive off the tracks to examine it more closely and re-openthe tracks.
“The Federal Railway Commission is there," Little said."The Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad company is also looking atwhat it's going to take to get that engine removed safely."
Little said the waterway could remain closed past the weekend ifengineers decide they need to bring in a barge to remove thetrain.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
It took fire crews about 10 minutes to get an electrical fire under control in Suffolk Sunday night.
A fire sparked in the laundry room of an apartment in Chesapeake late Sunday night.