ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Authorities say six train cars derailed on Parrott Avenue near the Whittier Mill Village neighborhood around 8 p.m. Sunday night, injuring a crew member and leaving a trail of debris and wreckage. It happened next to an oil plant and near the Chattahoochee River.
The loud noise stunned residents, including Nina Stephens. “It sounded like a huge explosion,” she said. “I didn’t know it was the train derailment until this morning when I texted my friend to say, “Did you hear the explosion in the neighborhood last night?”
Norfolk Southern officials confirmed there was a collision between rail equipment during switching operations prior to the derailment. One crew member was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and was released. “Thank God it wasn’t a passenger train, because who knows the potential that could have created,” Stephens said.
The derailment also attracted people from out of town. “I heard there was a derailment out here, and I was like, you know, maybe this would be something to come out and see what’s going on,” said Matthew Tweedel, who lives in LaGrange, Georgia.
Investigators are looking into what caused the derailment. They say a crew member who was on board one of the train cars was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released. pic.twitter.com/0ZbS2w0nTD
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) November 17, 2020
Jeff DeGraff, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, said no waterways were impacted. “The cars involved were not carrying any hazardous materials, and there were no releases, other than a small amount of diesel that came from a locomotive. That was immediately cleaned up,” DeGraff said. “We’ll certainly be looking, as part of the investigation, as to if this was something track-related or something else.”
As of Monday evening, investigators were still looking into what caused the derailment. “Derailments are something that we work actively to prevent. We have a robust system of maintenance and upgrades to all of of track structures as well as the rail cars,” said DeGraff. “Sometimes, there are issues that we cannot avoid or spontaneous issues. In those cases, it’s the immediate reaction that we focus on.”
There was no estimate on when crews would reopen Parrott Avenue to traffic, although train traffic had resumed in the area. Authorities are asking drivers to watch out for crews working on the road and be patient as they work to complete the clean up.