On Nov 17 in Bulls Gap, a Southern Railroad train derailed. The accident occurred at 10:20 p.m. as some train cars were being pulled through a spur. Hazardous material enters Hawkins County on the Southern Railroad through Bulls Gap on a daily basis, most of which is on its way to Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport.
There were four cars that didn't tip over at the back end of the train. Someone was obviously watching out for the community because . . . . the only cars left standing after the derailment were carrying 28,000 gallons of propane each.
The first emergency responders found the badly shaken engineer lying on the ground outside the train.
Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell said Southern Railroad was investigating the cause of the derailment.
“It was a switch engine pulling out of Seminole Gas,” Murrell said. “They had pulled in to pick up four loaded (propane) tank cars to take to Bulls Gap yard so the regular train could pick them up and take them to where they’re going. They were coming out of the yard on the switch track and, they don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the middle of that train something happened. It started pulling cars off the track. It just pulled off everything from that (middle) car forward. It turned everything over including the engine.”
The biggest cleanup was for diesel fuel that leaked out of the engine.