Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Train carrying crude oil derails in western Pa. [UPDATED]

A CSX unit train delivers a load of crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to a refinery in South Philadelphia. There has been a recent surge in oil shipments by rail across the country.

NAT HAMILTON/WHYY NEWS

A train delivering crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to a refinery in South Philadelphia.There has been a recent surge in oil shipments by rail across the country.

A train carrying heavy crude oil derailed this morning in Vandergrift– about 36 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the train cars struck a building that houses specialty metals.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Hazmat crews responded to MSI Corp. in the 200 block of First Street in Vandergrift, and the state Department of Environmental Protection was sending a three-member emergency response team after reports that an unknown substance was leaking from one of the derailed cars.

The 118-car Norfolk Southern Railway train was headed east around 8 a.m. when it derailed.

Witnesses said cars slammed into the MSI Corp. building, demolishing equipment used to mill steel blocks down to customer specifications. Employees of the business said they heard a tremendous crash and speculated right away that a train had derailed outside.

Westmoreland County public safety spokesman Dan Stevens said no injuries had been reported and there was no word of any fire, but hazardous materials crews were dispatched as a precaution.

He said some people were evacuated from MSI, and engineers will be sent to examine the structural integrity of the building.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said DEP was told that 10 to 18 cars derailed, two of them striking the metals plant.

Update 12:09 p.m.: The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports there were at least 21 cars that derailed:

At least one of the cars leaked about 1,000 gallons of what officials believe to be crude oil. That car is resting near the East Vandergrift border.

Norfolk Southern Railroad officials were inspecting each derailed car but, so far, found no other leaks. One car crashed into a building at MSI Corp, a specialty metals manufacturer, forcing officials to evacuated the building so it could be checked for structural integrity.

Company employees in that building were sent home for the day.

Update 1:27 p.m.: The Associated Press reports between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons of heavy crude oil spilled:

Authorities say a freight train derailment in western Pennsylvania spilled several thousand gallons of crude oil, but all of it went onto a parking lot.

Westmoreland County public safety officials say the derailment of 21 cars was reported shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday on a Norfolk Southern rail line between Vandergrift and East Vandergrift.

Spokesman Dan Stevens says 19 cars carrying heavy crude and two cars contained liquid propane derailed, and about 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of crude spilled from one of the cars.

But Stevens said it all went onto the parking lot and none went into waterways or ground areas.

No injuries were reported. Stevens said 35 people were evacuated from a factory building struck by two of the cars, and the building will be assessed for safety.

Update 3:58 p.m. from state Department of Environmental Protection: The DEP has a 3-member emergency response team on the scene of the Norfolk Southern oil train derailment. The train was heading eastbound when 21 of the 118 cars slid off the tracks. Nineteen of them were overturned, but two remained upright.

Four of the cars were punctured and are leaking heavy crude oil – three of them have released only a few gallons. The fourth car split open and released about half its load, or up to 7,500 gallons. Deputy Sec. Dana Aunkst says when the oil spilled, it “tarred up in the snow” so it did not spread.

DEP does not know the origin of the train.

“The oil was contained by Westmoreland County Hazmat and first responders,” says DEP spokesman John Poister says. “It did not get into any streams or creeks.”

Poister says there is no threat to nearby waterways at this point, but the DEP has notified local water authorities downstream as a precaution.  Norfolk Southern has called in a remediation firm to handle the clean up. The DEP team will remain on the scene to make sure the oil remains contained and doesn’t leak into any waterways.

The Philadelaphia Inquirer reports the train was carrying Canadian crude oil bound for Morrisville, Bucks County. The derailed oil tankers were headed for an asphalt plant in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, there has been a surge in train shipments of crude oil throughout the country, and a string of recent accidents has prompted calls for increased safety measures.

Last month, a train carrying crude oil derailed on a bridge over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the DEP estimates the amount of crude oil that spilled was about half the load of one 15,000 gallon tanker car, or up to 7,500 gallons spilled. The railroad Norfolk Southern estimates the spillage was between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons.

Comments

  • Celia Janosik

    Were these tankers, carrying the crude, of the new type? The old ones are far more likely to explode. There are many gas and crude oil tankers going through the Conway Yards in Beaver County. I just know more pipelines will be ordered and they are not much safer. Old pipelines are ignored and cause problems. Pipelines are laid near houses, as close as 20 feet. Companies do not want to put automatic shut offs on pipelines as they are more expensive. The fossil fuel industry wants to make as much money as possible and we are collateral damage. A fossil fuel free world would be Oh! so much safer.

    • Mary Sullivan

      I hope it was not MCHM from WV. No one is saying when or how it is being shipped to Pa

  • http://davelucasmobile.wordpress.com/ DaveLucasNotes

    Trains, Oil, Albany: 2nd Community Meeting Held http://bit.ly/1iSQbN9

  • laru

    Chalk another one up for the greens strategy to “Keep the oil on the Train”

  • calvin
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