State News

Train Carrying Spent Nuclear Fuel Derails at Wake Plant

Posted October 26, 2007 1:12 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2007 10:53 p.m. EDT

— Two cars on a train carrying spent radioactive nuclear fuel jumped the tracks at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant about 25 miles southwest of Raleigh, Progress Energy said Friday.

The utility said it was barred by federal law from giving the time or day of the accident. The state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety was notified of the incident at 7:23 p.m. Thursday, shortly after it occurred, but spokeswoman Patty McQuillan also declined to release the specific time it happened.

The utility blamed the accident on human error in preparing the tracks for the train's arrival.

"It was a miscommunication about whether or not the preparations on the actual track had been made in order to move the train," Hans said.

The full train remained upright after a caboose and an empty flatbed car, used as a buffer, jumped the tracks, the company said. The train was moving at about 4 mph to 5 mph.

The train, including the derailed cars, had been cleared off the tracks as of Friday morning, Hans said.

The Shearon Harris plant accepts overflow waste from one facility, Progress Energy's Brunswick nuclear plant south of Wilmington.

Hans declined to say whether any plant employee faces disciplinary action as a consequence of the error that led to the derailment.

"We are carefully reviewing the cause to make sure it doesn't happen again," Hans said.