Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Update on Crude Oil Derailment in Vandergrift

Officials say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled following the train derailment in Vandergrift, but all of it was contained in a parking lot.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Authorities say about 4,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into a parking lot Thursday, when more than 21 cars on a Norfolk Southern rail line between Vandergrift and East Vandergrift derailed around 8:30 a.m.

No injuries were reported. Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier, covered the story for WESA, and NPR news.

Frazier says the area is reported to be safe, because the parking lot managed to contain the spill. But how can area residents be sure it's safe?

Proper procedures require the contractor for the railroad company to scoop up all the surface oil, Frazier explains. "Some of the oil got onto surrounding soil," He says.

"So they will dig that soil out and they have to submit soil tests to the DEP, Department of Environmental Protection, that show they’ve gone past the point where any contamination occurred. Judging by the tone coming from the folks at the DEP, it doesn’t sound huge, it sounds like it will be contained.”

Frazier adds that events such as this and the recent derailment in the Philadelphia area will continue to happen as more crude is shipped across the country. “I think one thing that will come out of this is people who are proponents of pipelines, like the Keystone XL Pipeline, are going to say ‘Look, this oil is coming out of the Bakken, its coming out of the tar sands or the oil sands in Alberta, this is just going to happen when we have them on the rails.'"

But that is not to say that pipelines are the solution, as Frazier points out that spills occur in the pipeline too and when they occur, it's hard to notice until the spill is significant.