Source: The New York Times, February 14, 2014
Posted on: http://fpn.advisen.com
A 120-car Norfolk Southern train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania on Thursday, adding to a string of recent accidents that have prompted calls for stronger safety standards.
There were no reports of injury or fire after 21 tank cars came off the track and crashed into a nearby industrial building at a bend by the Kiskiminetas River in the town of Vandergrift. Nineteen of the derailed cars were carrying oil, four of which spilled between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of oil, Norfolk Southern said. The leaks have since been plugged. Two other derailed tank cars held liquefied petroleum gas.
The cleanup was underway on Thursday as a heavy winter storm intensified. The Federal Railroad Administration said it was sending an investigator to the site.
The train, which was also carrying food products, crashed into a track-side building owned by the MSI Corporation, which makes metal products.
Thursday’s accident is the latest in a spate of crude oil train derailments that has prompted calls for more stringent rules regulating crude shipments by rail, which have soared in recent years as pipelines fail to keep up with growing supply.
A Senate hearing is planned on the safety of transporting crude by rail, which has become a major political issue as the accident numbers rise. The hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed by the snow.
Thursday’s accident was the second in less than a month in Pennsylvania. A train hauling crude on a CSX railroad jumped the tracks and nearly toppled over a bridge in Philadelphia on Jan. 20. There were no injuries or fire in that incident. A train carrying Bakken oil from North Dakota last July derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying much of the small town.
Railroad companies, tank car owners and regulators are investigating ways to transport crude on the rails more safely. Much of the focus is on phasing out older tank cars that do not meet the latest safety standards.