Liz McCormick Published

UPDATE: Eastern Panhandle Christmas Incidents

Empty CSX rail cars derailed on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Two incidents in the Eastern Panhandle that occurred over the Christmas holiday have seen some resolution.

On Dec. 21, a train derailed in Harpers Ferry damaging a footbridge that is part of the Appalachian Trail. No injuries were reported. The footbridge remains closed, according to the National Park Service. But all areas that were temporarily closed due to the derailment, such as John Brown’s Fort, have now reopened.

On Dec. 23, residents and businesses were evacuated within a half-mile radius of downtown Martinsburg because of a chemical mix up near a sewage treatment plant. Sodium hydrochloride and ferric chloride mixed during a tanker offload, according to Berkeley County officials.


Emissions from the incident were said to cause “mild respiratory irritation” without delayed or long-term effects.


The evacuation was lifted Christmas Eve, according to the Berkeley County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.