Sheriff Kenneth Sealey told The Fayetteville Observer that the unidentified man was a conductor who was killed just after 2 p.m. Monday at Progress Energy's Weatherspoon Plant.
Sealey says the man was part of a two-person crew that was unloading the 97-car train when he either fell or was pulled down into the coal.
The man died on the scene. No other injuries were reported. Sealey says the incident was still under investigation. The victim's name was not released pending notification of family.
A Progress Energy spokeswoman says four trains make deliveries to the plant each month. Each train has roughly 100 cars, which in turn contains 100 tons of coal apiece.