Friday, March 24, 2023

DEP: Norfolk Southern Gives Notice On Starting Next Phase Of Cleanup At Site Of 2022 Trail Derailment In Harmar Twp., Allegheny County

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the March 25 PA Bulletin it received formal notice Norfolk Southern Railroad is starting the next phase of cleanup in areas impacted by the May 26, 2022 train derailment in Harmar Township, Allegheny County.  (PA Bulletin, page 1721)

The derailment was caused by a truck unlawfully stopped on the mainline tracks in Harmar Township that resulted in 17 tank cars derailing and the release of petroleum distillates, diesel fuel, and polymer beads into Guys Run which flows into the Allegheny River in the vicinity of the derailment.

[Note: This is NOT related to the February 3 Norfolk Southern derailment in Ohio.]

As a result of this derailment, rail cars and rail transportation equipment were damaged, one span of a rail bridge crossing Guys Run was destroyed, and a second rail bridge across Guys Run was damaged and compromised.

Immediately following the derailment, Norfolk Southern initiated site cleanup, rail repair, and rail car recovery in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Allegheny County.

Two separate adjacent areas, divided by Guys Run, comprise the approximate site boundaries and areas of additional investigation and response. 

The area to the southwest of Guys Run (Area No. 1) is approximately 1.1 acres in size and consists of vacant land. The area to the northeast of Guys Run (Area No. 2) is approximately 1.4 acres in size and consists of a mixture of vacant and forested land.

The release of petroleum distillate was limited to surface soils in portions of Area No. 1 and the surface water of Guys Run; the release of diesel fuel was limited to surface soils in Area No. 2; and polymer beads were released to surface soils in both Area No. 1 and Area No. 2, as well as the surface water of Guys Run.

Emergency response operations were conducted immediately following the derailment and continued for several weeks. Response activities included the placement of absorbent and hard booms, removal of derailed railcars, and active recovery of released materials. 

Based on the compounds released during the May 2022 derailment, characterization sampling conducted to date has included the analysis of surface water and soil samples for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) 8 Total Metals, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) diesel range organics (DRO) and gasoline range organics (GRO), polycyclic aromatic hydro- carbons (PAHs), and/or select petroleum-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs). TPH was present in soil samples.

Based on the findings of additional pending assessments at the Site, remediation will be conducted as warranted to demonstrate attainment with applicable standards under PADEP oversight and authorization. 

The Notice of Intent to Remediate was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 5, 2023. 

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information (PA Bulletin, page 1721).

To view a copy of the Notice of Intent, contact DEP’s Southwest Regional Office at 412-442-4000 or Kam Miseikyte, Clerical Assistant 2 at 412-442-4091.

[Posted: March 24, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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