Harmful fumes delay cleanup process in Cramerton train derailment

Harmful fumes delay cleanup process in Cramerton train derailment


by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc


Posted on September 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 11:19 PM

CRAMERTON, N.C. -- The mayor of Cramerton said he is frustrated that train cars from a derailment nearly two months ago are still there after yet another delay.

The latest delay is the result of new concerns about safety and that gives city officials and those living near the tracks something new to worry about.

"Safety is paramount and is our main concern here in Cramerton," said Mayor Ronnie Worley.

Norfolk Southern Railroad said the delay results from concerns about the rubber lining in some of the tank cars that are still laying on their side after a derailment near 8th Avenue on August 6.

Four of the train cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas, a substance that is highly flammable. The petroleum was transferred to other cars without leaking.

The plan was to use cutting torches to dismantle the cars but the contractor wants to find out if the torches could cause fumes still in the linings to drift into the neighborhood.

"We are not happy to hear about the delay but if it is a concern about safety we certainly would want to wait and make sure that the proper procedures would be followed," said the mayor.

Neighbors are concerned because a school -- Cramerton Christian Academy -- is in sight of the cars.

Then there are those like Karri Patel who live right next to the tracks.

"We were already in danger when the train almost went through our house," Patel said. She added that the new concern about the fumes makes her just as scared.

Cramerton has billed the railroad $8,000 for the costs of police and firefighters who had to work overtime following the derailment.

Mayor Worley said the railroad has yet to pay the town back and still the cars sit there.

Ed Blake, who lives within sight of the cars said, "The people are really getting irritated at it because we are getting some mice and some rats coming out from under some of them."

Cramerton police have stepped up patrols after receiving reports of children playing on some of the cars.

The railroad now hopes to know by next week if it is safe to go ahead with the plan to dismantle the cars using cutting torches.