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Rail Cars Fall From Bridge Into Anacostia River

Rail cars hang over the side of a railroad bridge after yesterday afternoon's derailment. No one was injured in the accident.
Rail cars hang over the side of a railroad bridge after yesterday afternoon's derailment. No one was injured in the accident. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)

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By Jonathan Mummolo and Joshua Zumbrun
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Part of an 89-car freight train carrying coal left the tracks on a bridge over the Anacostia River yesterday, sending several cars into the water, authorities said.

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The bridge is one of two adjacent spans across the river near RFK Stadium and had not been in use since last November, sources said. It was not clear last night why the train was on the bridge.

Part of the span apparently buckled and collapsed near the site of the derailment, but it was not clear whether the collapse occurred before the cars fell from the bridge, said Bob Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX Transportation, which operates the bridge. He said that the incident is under investigation.

No injuries were reported in the incident, which occurred about 3 p.m., said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Services Department.

Sullivan said the CSX train was being moved in what he described as rail yard operations.

Sullivan said that both bridges were closed last year. CSX officials said then that they were closing at least one for repairs after structural problems were found during routine inspections.

Sullivan said last night that one span had reopened.

Repairs on the bridge involved in yesterday's incident had apparently not begun and full use had not resumed, sources said.

Etter said authorities think the train was not moving when cars began tumbling from the span.

Etter said that the coal probably did not pose a significant environmental threat. Minimal amounts of petroleum and hydraulic fluid that leaked were contained, he said.

Staff writers Lena H. Sun and Martin Weil contributed to this report.

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