Train derails in Roanoke County after bridge collapsed releasing 2000 tons of coal in river

Officials are ensuring if there are any impacts to water quality

Norfolk Southern train derailment in Roanoke County. (Pamela Davis)


Roanoke County officials responded to the train derailment incident in a press release Saturday night.

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Officials said that a Norfolk Southern Corp. bridge collapsed in Roanoke County near Barley Drive Friday night around 11:15 p.m. The bridge collapsed while a train carrying coal was crossing the Roanoke River, and a dozen of 22 rail cars that derailed fell into the river, causing about 2000 tons of coal to fall out.

The Virginia Department of Emergency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality responded to the incident and have been coordinating on removing the rail cars and coal from the river, according to the press release.

Officials said that DEQ is working with local, state and federal agencies as well as Norfolk Southern to collect samples to determine if there have been any impacts to water quality.

Out of an abundance of caution, Salem is currently withdrawing water from groundwater wells and not the Roanoke River until water samples of the river can be analyzed, according to officials.


A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Roanoke County late Friday night, according to emergency dispatch.

Officials began receiving calls about the incident around 11 p.m. in the 4000 block of Barley Drive.

Norfolk Southern train derailment in Roanoke County. (Courtesy: Pamela Davis) (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Crews were on scene from Roanoke County Police and Fire until about 2 a.m. Saturday.

There are no reports of injuries.

Norfolk Southern is handling cleanup and the investigation.

As of now, the homes nearby have not been evacuated, according to dispatch.

WSLS 10 News has contacted Norfolk Southern for additional information.

This is a developing story.

About the Authors

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.

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