Some 80,000 barrels of crude oil, by the end of this month, are expected to start their journey from North Dakota to the Exelon energy generation facility in Eddystone where it will be loaded onto barges in the Delaware River for delivery to Trainer Refinery and other refineries along the river.
Eddystone Rail Co., a collaboration of four entities, is preparing the small, industrial borough for the hauling of thousands of gallons of crude oil into town.
“At CSX, we maintain a steadfast commitment to the safety of our operations within the communities we operate,” said Skip Elliott, CSX vice president for Health, Safety and Environment.
Last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee hosted a public hearing at the Eddystone Fire Department to discuss emergency preparedness and response capabilities related to transportation of crude oil. The hearing was co-chaired by state reps. Stephen Barrar (R-160) and Joe Hackett (R-161).
The project has many players involved and each explained their particular role in safety which, at times, got a little murky. The onion of responsibility was evidenced when Barrar asked Elliot which company – Eddystone Rail members or CSX — owned the tank cars carrying the oil. The question sought clarity about who would potentially be responsible for a rail car if it derailed or leaked.
“If CSX does not own the cars, who owns them?” inquired Barrar.
CSX deflected the idea of being responsible for the overall condition or maintenance of the rail cars as Elliot explained, “The cars are typically owned by the (companies) making the chemicals or, in many cases, tank cars are leased from companies that build them then lease them to shippers that are manufacturing the product.”
The transport is a joint project between CSX, Enbridge, Inc., Canopy Prospecting, Inc. and Exelon Generation, allowing use of its property along the waterfront. The transport will start with 80,000 barrels per day and is expected to jump to 160,000 barrels per day over time. During the hearing, it was made clear that as oil production increased, so would the travel and also the chances for an accident.
“Make no mistake, an incident involving rail transport of oil will occur in the commonwealth and lives, including first responders’ lives, will be put at risk,” warned former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon. “These incidents have occurred in the past and they will occur in the future.”
“Is there a limit on the number of crude oil cars or tank cars that will be traveling in these railways through this community?” asked state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D-159).
Elliot indicated there was not a particular maximum and the volume limit would rely on the off-loading facility’s capacity level.
Other safety measures discussed were the possibility of a regional fire station being built in the county with responders specifically trained to respond to industrial accidents.