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A Clean-up crews are still working to remove the coal that spilled out of several Union Pacific train cars after it derailed on an overpass between Highway 38 and Nicholson Road at 5:50 a.m. Jan. 19.

Keith Kohlmann, a railroad historian who spent part of the day photographing the clean-up efforts on Sunday, said at least 15 of the 19 cars that derailed were coal cars. Nineteen of the 135-car train derailed.

Marcus Smith, a representative for the Department of Natural Resources, said the coal clean-up is ongoing.

Coal spilled into a stream at the mouth of a 4-foot culvert underneath the railroad track, near an embankment and stream bed. An environmental contractor is cleaning up the coal. The DNR will continue overseeing the clean-up effort.

The cause of the train derailment has not been determined.

Jeff Plale, commissioner of railroads, said the cause of the train derailment has not officially been determined. Officials with Union Pacific are investigating and have taken samples of the track to determine the cause.

However, the extreme temperature changes may have made the tracks brittle, Plale said.


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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.