A hazardous materials team from Norfolk Southern is working to contain a diesel fuel spill from a locomotive of a passenger train that derailed in Mebane on the morning of May 13 after a collision with a low-boy tractor-trailer rig that hung up on a sloped crossing, resulting in personal injuries.
According to Alamance County Fire Marshal David Leonard, the Amtrak Piedmont No. 73 train departed from Raleigh on the morning of the accident with 1,900 gallons of fuel and the hazmat team had siphoned out 500 gallons from the locomotive. A fire that broke out consumed some of the fuel, but authorities remain uncertain of the amount of fuel remaining in the locomotive’s tanks and on the ground.
The accident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. at the 5th Street grade crossing in Mebane. The train was traveling from Raleigh to Charlotte and was carrying 36 passengers. The impact caused the locomotive to derail and catch fire. One coach car also caught fire.
Twelve passengers and one crew member from the train were injured in the accident and received transport to three different local hospitals: Alamance Regional Medical Center, Duke University Hospital and the University of North Carolina Hospital.
The uninjured train passengers were given bus transport to their destinations.
According to North Carolina rail officials, the truck’s driver ignored posted signs warning against driving a long truck across the humped crossing.
The crash was the seventh to take place at the Fifth Street crossing since 1978, only one of which resulted in a fatality. In that crash, which occurred on February 12, 2005, a 78-year-old woman in a car struck by an Amtrak train was killed.