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June 2020
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Derailed train spills 1,000 gallons of fuel near Talona Creek



                                                                                                                photo/Angela Reinhardt 

     Crews work to contain a fuel leak and keep it from entering Talona Creek in north Pickens County Wednesday afternoon. According to the Pickens Fire & EMS Director, the EPD inspected the creek Wednesday and determined no fuel had spilled into the water. 

        According to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, a train derailed near the Pickens/Gilmer line and spilled 1,000 gallons of fuel from a punctured tank.

The spill occurred on Whitestone Road near an Imerys operation at approximately 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The derailment and leak occurred at a section of track near Talona Creek.  Emergency crews immediately began work to contain the leak and keep it from entering the creek, but officials said

rains that lasted through the night and into the next day make containment more challenging. Pickens County Sheriff’s Capt. Kris Stancil said he was on the scene 10 minutes after the call came in and fuel had already reached the edge of the creek.

Pickens County Fire & Rescue and Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services Hazmat teams were called in that evening to assist.

“Pickens doesn’t have a Hazmat team,” said Pickens County Fire & EMS Director Sloan Elrod. 

Around 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Elrod said the Environmental Protection Division had inspected Talona Creek earlier that day and found no fuel had run into the waterway. 

The spill occurred in an area where there are no businesses or residences, so evacuations were not needed. There were no injuries.

Ultimately, Georgia Northeastern Railroad is responsible for the cleanup, “but we are here to assist,” Elrod said.

Details regarding the cause of the derailment are currently being investigated by Georgia Northeastern Railroad. The train remained upright during the incident and only the one locomotive left the track.