Sowashee Creek diesel fuel spill

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star

Crews work to contain a diesel fuel spill into Sowashee Creek.

Between 4,000-6,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the Norfolk Southern rail yard off Railroad Street in Meridian before 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the company.

Some of the fuel entered a storm water drain and made its way into Sowashee Creek, according to Norfolk Southern and the Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency.

"A small amount of product made it to Sowashee Creek," John Williamson, the director of LEMA, said. "We're concentrating the bulk of of our cleanup efforts on the Sowashee to make sure it doesn't go downstream."

The cause of the spill is under investigation.

Booms were deployed and LEMA reported around noon the spill was contained and was being cleaned up by private and government agencies. Williamson estimated it could take several days to clean up the spill.

The diesel fuel is readily identifiable, which will aid response personnel in its recovery (non-highway use diesel fuel is dyed red), according to a Norfolk Southern spokeswoman.

"Based on current information, no impacts have been observed beyond approximately 1 mile from the rail yard and there are no known impacts outside the creek," Norfolk Southern spokesowman Susan Terpay stated in an email.

Environmental cleanup contractors are on site along with the City of Meridian Fire Department, Lauderdale County Emergency Management Services, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, according to Norfolk Southern and LEMA.

Williamson said that representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency were expected to arrive by the end of Wednesday.

LEMA requested the public to stay away from the area of the spill.

Dave Bohrer contributed to this report.

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