Incidents of derailments in 2014 have prompted questions about safety standards for trains transporting chemicals.
But how safe is the transferring of these chemicals from the trains to other vehicles?
TRANSFLO Terminal Services, Inc. transfers bulk commodities – often high-risk chemicals – between railcars and trucks. But the company does not have a risk management plan in case of an emergency.
That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has entered into an administrative agreement with the company requiring it to evaluate whether such a plan is needed at any of its 13 facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, including four in Pennsylvania.
During an inspection, the EPA found some discrepancies at TRANSFLO’s facility in Butler County.
“What we saw, or in our inspection what we allege, is that some of the procedures that are necessary for a risk management plan were not in place,” Bonnie Smith, EPA spokeswoman, said. “We allege that they didn’t conduct training and do some of the activities needed to maintain the integrity of their liquid propane gas transfer equipment.”
In Butler, the company transfers propane, butane and propylene, which are on the list of 77 toxic and 63 flammable substances that require a risk management plan under the Clean Air Act.
According to Smith, a plan is required at facilities that store a certain quantity of these high-risk chemicals, and that’s what TRANSFLO is evaluating.
“We have been cooperating fully with the EPA, and working to ensure that our TRANSFLO facilities meet or exceed the highest safety standards,” the company said in a written statement.
Smith said risk management plans ensure the safety of the communities in which these facilities are located.
“With a plan, detailing the chemicals that are located on site and the risk associated with those chemicals,” Smith said. “Both first responders can be ready, and companies can be prepared if something occurs.”
According to the EPA, the company did not admit liability for the alleged violations as part of the settlement.
The four facilities being assessed in Pennsylvania are in Pittsburgh, Butler, Chester and Philadelphia.