HEPACO / Categories: Case Studies


Bloomington, Maryland

More than 70 rail cars carrying coal were derailed on a mountainside track near Bloomington, Maryland. HEPACO participated initially with a cache of equipment and responders; however, the real work began after the initial emergency response was complete. 

A week after the derailment, Team HEPACO was called out to recover the coal along the steep mountainside. “This is probably the most dangerous job I’ve seen in my career,” stated a senior executive for the responsible party. The steep terrain in which we had to traverse in order to bring the material up to where it could be loaded was the big issue. Working with the Safety Supervisor out of HEPACO’s Norfolk service center, we were able to come up with engineering controls to protect our workers. 

Each employee had to be trained on utilizing climbing ropes, harnesses, ascenders, carabiners, etc. to safely traverse up and down the mountain and how to safely egress personnel up the mountain to safety in case of an emergency. Once the training was complete, our crews raked and shoveled the coal down the steep mountainside to locations where they could safely shovel it into large one-ton bags. The bags were craned back up to the track and dumped where they could be loaded into rail cars. 

The HEPACO Team hand shoveled over 900 tons of coal and assisted in safely removing it from the mountainside. Nine hundred tons of coal is a staggering amount using no equipment. This figure alone shows the kind of outstanding technicians we have. The fact that our team members were able to accomplish such a feat under adverse conditions in unforgiving terrain is phenomenal.