Category Archives: Tar sands crude

Latest on Pennsylvania oil train derailment

Repost from Reuters

Train carrying Canadian oil derails, leaks in Pennsylvania

By Robert Gibbons and Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK  Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:17pm EST

The wreckage of a train derailment is seen in the snow near Vandergrift, Pennsylvania February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Cohn

The wreckage of a train derailment is seen in the snow near Vandergrift, Pennsylvania February 13, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Jason Cohn
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp 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. The two other derailed tank cars held liquefied petroleum gas.

The train, which originated in Chicago, was destined for an asphalt plant in Paulsboro, New Jersey, owned by NuStar, a NuStar spokeswoman said.

The clean-up was under way on Thursday as a heavy winter storm gathered pace, leaving about 4 inches of snow on the ground by midday Thursday. An investigator from the Federal Railroad Administration was en route to the scene, the railroad regulator said.

“I heard a strange noise, a hollow, screeching sound,” said Ray Cochran, who watched the train derail from his home on a hill above the tracks. “I looked out the window and saw three or four tankers turn over and one of them ran into the building.”

The train, which was also carrying food products, crashed into a track-side building owned by MSI Corporation that makes metal products.

All employees had been accounted for, said Sandy Smythe, a public information officer with Westmoreland County’s public safety department, which includes Vandergrift borough.

MSI declined to comment.

Thursday’s accident is the latest in a spate of crude oil train derailments that has prompted calls for more stringent rules regulating crude by rail, shipments of which have soared in recent years as pipelines fail to keep up with growing supply.

It comes ahead of a Senate hearing concerning the safety of transporting crude by rail, which has become a major political issue as the incidents pile up. 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 Corp railroad jumped the tracks and nearly toppled over a bridge in Philadelphia on January 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 decimating much of the small town.

U.S. and Canadian 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, known as DOT-111s, that do not meet the latest safety standards.

DOT-111s built before 2011 are prone to puncture and fire during accidents, regulators say.

It is as yet unclear what type of cars were involved in Thursday’s accident.

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    UPDATE: Tar-sands oil spill in Vandergriff, PA

    Repost from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    Train derails in Vandergrift; leaking crude oil

    Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch – Crews from Norfolk Southern inspect derailed tanker cars near the MSI Corporation building along First Avenue in Vandergrift on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

    February 13, 2014
    By Chuck Biedka
    Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 8:30 a.m. 

     

    At least 21 train tanker cars carrying crude oil and propane derailed shortly before 8 a.m. in Vandergrift near a specialty metals plant.

     

    At least one of the cars leaked about 1,000 gallons of what Norfolk Southern Rail spokesman David Pigeon described as “heavy” crude oil. That car is resting near the East Vandergrift border. The spill did not make it to the Kiski River.

     

    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.

     

    No injuries have been reported.

     

    Early in the afternoon, two Norfolk Southern contractors were on the scene to begin clearing the cars. Officials from Westmoreland County Emergency Management, the federal Transportation Safety Administration and local firefighters and police are at the scene.

     

    Officials had considered evacuating homes from the nearby Sherman Avenue neighborhood but determined that wouldn’t be necessary. The closest homes appear to be about 250 yards from the derailment scene.

     

    Norfolk Southern’s Pigeon said the train was en route from Conway, Beaver County, to Morrisville, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia. Neither he nor emergency officials had any information about what may have caused the derailment.

     

    Although no streets are closed because of the derailment, the normally busy rail line is closed.

     

    Map

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      Neil Young, live: “Mother Earth”

      Live from a stop on his “Honour The Treaties” tour.  Neil at the keyboard, singing, with photos of the devastation from tar sands extraction.  More information: HonourTheAFCN.ca/ – also NeilYoung.com.

      “Oh, Mother Earth, with your fields of green, once more laid down by the hungry hand. How long can you give and not receive, and feed this world ruled by greed? … Respect Mother Earth and her giving ways or trade away our children’s days.” — Neil Young

      Neil Young – Mother Earth (Natural Anthem) Lyrics

      Artist: Neil Young

      Oh, mother Earth, with your fields of green
      Once more laid down by the hungry hand
      How long can you give and not receive
      And feed this world ruled by greed?
      And feed this world ruled by greed?

      Oh, ball of fire in the summer sky
      Your healing light, your parade of days
      Are they betrayed by the men of power
      Who hold this world in their changing hands?
      They hold the world in their changing hands
      Oh, freedom land, can you let this go
      Down to the streets where the numbers grow?
      Respect mother Earth and her giving ways
      Or trade away our children’s days
      Or trade away our children’s days
      Respect mother Earth and her healing ways
      Or trade away our children’s days
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        Benicia Herald op ed: Do Benicians want tar-sands oil brought here?

        Repost from The Benicia Herald

        Do Benicians want tar-sands oil brought here?

        THE RAVAGES OF tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada. Sierra Club

        By Roger Straw

        MANY THANKS TO BENICIA HERALD REPORTER Donna Beth Weilenmann for her detailed report, “Valero rail project: City has no control over oil source” (June 12). It is unfortunate that City Manager Brad Kilger is quoted saying, “The city does not have the authority to control the refinery’s crude sources.”

        The source of Valero’s crude is important — here in Solano County, and globally. Since the city can’t control it, perhaps those of us who live here should persuade our friendly giant Valero to stay away from Canadian tar-sands oil of its own volition.

        The world is dying, not so slowly, from the burning of fossil fuels. The most polluting of these fuels is mined in Alberta, Canada, where investors are extracting a thick, tar-like substance called “bitumen” from deep layers of sand. This sludge is blasted out of the sand with heated water. Millions of gallons of water are used daily, which first must be heated by natural gas, so the process is not energy efficient and can never be truly competitive with regard to “return on investment” after all costs are factored.

        Moreover, additional costs are too often not accounted for — in particular the destruction of miles and miles of pristine northern boreal forests, and in their place the creation of a hellish network of open pit mines, wells, roads, pipes and hundreds of toxic “lakes” from the water used in the extraction process. The destruction has expanded to an area larger than Ohio or Pennsylvania.

        Next comes the problem of creating a “blend” of crude oil from the tar-like bitumen that is fluid enough to be transportable by pipeline (Keystone XL), or now by rail. The gazillion-dollar heated railroad cars, we are told by Mr. Kilger, who cites a study paid for by Valero, are “specifically designed not to rupture,” and the city, county, state and feds are all well-prepared to take care of any emergency.

        Sure. Tell that to the residents who live near Kalamazoo, Mich., where my daughter was born. We have friends and family nearby there, and their story of leaked tar-sands crude is horrific. After spending more than $765 million on a three-year cleanup there, the Kalamazoo River is still plagued by sunken heavy balls of tar-sands bitumen, threatening habitat, wildlife and human health. For background, see “April Flooding Could Affect Cleanup of 2010 Michigan Oil Spill,” by David Hasemyer:

        “Removing dilbit (diluted bitumen) from water is more difficult than removing conventional oil because the chemicals used to thin the bitumen gradually evaporate, while the bitumen sinks to the river bottom.”

        Imagine that gunk flowing into our Suisun Marsh after a train derailment — what would that look like? For an idea, read InsideClimate News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning authors’ “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of,” about “a project that began with a seven-month investigation into the million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. It broadened into an examination of national pipeline safety issues, and how unprepared the nation is for the impending flood of imports of a more corrosive and more dangerous form of oil.”

        We in Benicia — including our neighbors in positions of influence at Valero — need to do some very important homework and ask a lot of questions before this new crude-by-rail project is approved. Imagine a disaster here, or better yet, imagine no opportunity for one. The hearing at the Planning Commission is set for July 11. Comments should be sent by July 1 to City Manager Brad Kilger at City Hall, 250 East L St., Benicia, or by email to bkilger@ci.benicia.ca.us.

        Roger Straw is a Benicia resident.

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