Train investigation under way

An independent inspector has begun investigating a derailment Tuesday that left five train cars on their sides and damaged up to 200 feet of rail spur at Craig Station power plant.

"The immediate concern was that the haul road to Trapper Mine was blocked by one of the rail cars," said Charlie Powell, communications editor for Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which operates the power plant.

The incident derailed eight cars carrying coal at 7 a.m. Tuesday. The train was hauling coal from Colowyo Coal Co. to the plant.

Powell said a contractor moved the car and spilled coal on Wednesday. Another contractor will repair the 100 to 200 feet of rail spur damaged in the incident.

"The investigation may take 10 days or so," Powell said. "In the meantime, they'll be cleaning up the site."

Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific railroad company, said Tri-State is responsible for the investigation and clean-up because the incident occurred on its track and property.

Davis said independent inspectors or Union Pacific workers complete the investigations, unless there are special circumstances, such as environmental issues or fatalities.

No one was injured in the Craig Station derailment.

Davis said the train's speed is undetermined, but he predicted it would have been moving slowly.

"It would be going extremely slow," he said. "You're inside the plant, so 10 (mph) or less."

Powell said there is enough coal at the plant to keep operations up for weeks.

"We don't anticipate any interruption in service," Powell said. "That's the important thing."

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 204, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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