(Vandergrift, Pennsylvania – February 13, 2014)
A 120-car Norfolk Southern freight train mainly hauling tank cars filled with crude oil on its way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia derailed 21 of its cars near an industrial park at a bend of the Kiskiminetas River in the western Pennsylvania town of Vandergrift Thursday morning.
Besides the 19 car loads of Bakken oil field crude, the freight cars derailed also included two cars loaded with highly volatile liquefied petroleum (LPG) gas. Three of the cars carrying crude oil spilled parts of their loads as a result of the crash. NS company officials maintained that the leaks in the three cars were plugged, but refused to say how many gallons of oil had spilled. But unidentified sources told WTAL-TV that an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 gallons had escaped the tank cars.
“It’s contained,” NS Spokesman Dan Stevens told the media. “The hazmat crews for the railroad are on site and will be taking care of that situation.”
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania DEP Spokesman John Poister assured the media that “It did not get into any streams or creeks.”
It was the second rail accident in Pennsylvania within a month involving close calls with the commodity that has been involved in a number of derailments, explosions and fatalities in both the U.S. and Canada recently.
In the early morning hours (12:30 A.M.) of January 20, a 101-car CSX freight train traveling from Chicago, IL to Philadelphia, PA derailed seven cars – six of them carrying Bakken crude oil – on the Schuylkill Arsenal Railroad Bridge in Philadelphia, PA, forcing the closure of the Schuylkill Expressway for several hours.
Fortunately, the CSX derailment did not experience a breach of any of the oil-carrying tankers, thus avoiding any fires or explosions like the ones that occurred last year in North Dakota, Alabama and Quebec, where 47 people died in the conflagration from the derailed and breached tank cars of crude.
A U.S. Senate hearing called to investigate the safety of hauling crude oil by rail was postponed Thursday due to heavy snows in Washington, DC and the east coast.