Crews have been working to clean up a petroleum spill at Citico Creek near the mouth of the Tennessee River. (Photo: Bruce Garner, Chattanooga Fire Department)

Officials identified Norfolk Southern as the source of the fuel spill that emptied more than 1,000 gallons of petroleum into Citico Creek near the mouth of the Tennessee River Monday night.

“The spill originated from DeButts Yard and Norfolk Southern has taken responsibility for the spill and has assured city, state and federal authorities this afternoon that it is making every effort to minimize the impact on Citico Creek and the Tennessee River,” Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner said in an email.

The spill could be seen and smelled Monday from the Walnut Street Bridge, according to NewsChannel 9.


Norfolk Southern, which is a transportation company that operates railways, has hired several “environmental remediation companies” to do the cleanup work, which is expected to take several days, he also said.

The investigation into the cause of the spill will be handled jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Tennessee American Water also addressed the spill Tuesday evening.

The company’s external affairs manager Daphne Kirksey said that the organization is “confident that there is no threat to the drinking water supply.”

The site of the spill in Citico Creek is adjacent to Tennessee American Water’s property.

They are monitoring the situation, and analysis of water samples yesterday did not indicate any changes related to the spill, she said.

The company is performing additional sampling while the cleanup continues and has a site operator who will monitor and take samples at the plant at all times 24/7.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are utilizing powdered activated carbon since yesterday evening,” she said Tuesday evening. “The carbon is a protocol recommended by TDEC for emergency readiness. The carbon helps to eliminate any probable contaminants when the water is initially drawn into the plant from the river.”

Click here for more from NewsChannel 9, which has aerial shots that show the spill.