NEW YORK A
90-car Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) train carrying crude
oil to Walnut Hill, Fla., from Amory, Miss., derailed Nov. 8
near Aliceville, Ala., possibly posing further questions about
rails ability to safely transport crude oil.
"I have 11 counties
that Im in charge of, and theres been nothing like
this," Alabama Emergency Management Agency regional coordinator
Don Hartley told AMM.
Hartley noted that 20
of 26 derailed cars caught fire, although GWI said in updates
on its website Nov. 8 that 11 cars were burning.
A spokesman for the
Darien, Conn.-based company declined further comment.
No injuries were
reported and there was only a brief evacuation of a neighboring
house, with any immediate danger having since subsided.
"All the fires are
out. This has gone from a response operation to a recovery
operation, recovering the rail cars and repairing the line,"
The amount of crude
oil spilled and the cause of the accident have yet to be
determined, but the latter finding could set the stage for
further examination of rails ability to safely carry
"It really depends on
what the investigation shows the cause of the accident to be.
We wont know for sure until the recovery process is
complete. There are still a number of cars that are in the
marsh there," Hartley said.
The latest derailment
comes after a July 6 incident near Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in
which a runaway train hauling crude oil tank cars caught fire,
leveled a town and killed 47 people (
amm.com, July 8). This led the U.S. Federal
Railroad Administration to hold an emergency meeting to begin
considering additional regulatory or other safety measures (
amm.com, Sept. 3).
Energy companies such
as Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada Corp., which is seeking
approval of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline to Nebraska from
Alberta, have in the past claimed that carrying crude via train
is less safe and environmentally friendly than via pipeline (
amm.com, March 15).
Crude oil transport
via rail has been growing in the absence of pipelines from
areas such as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, with the
Association of American Railroads (AAR) estimating that 97,135
carloads of crude were carried by train in the first quarter of
2013, more than double the 36,544 carloads in the first quarter
of 2012, according to a report.
AAR claimed in the
report that transporting crude via rail is safer than in
pipelines, with the crude oil "spill rate" for railroads from
2002 to 2012 estimated at 2.2 gallons per million ton-miles,
compared with 6.3 gallons per million ton-miles for
However, traffic was
comparatively low for crude by rail in most of those examined
years, AAR data also shows.