A recent Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway L.L.C. (AGR) train derailment near Aliceville in west Alabama resulted in fiery explosions and a crude oil spill. The incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7. The Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue team responded to the scene at about 2 a.m. Oct. 8, in order to try and contain the spill, according to Lt. Travis Parker.
The train was traveling on a raised trestle above a wetlands marsh area when 20 of the 90 train cars derailed. Eleven cars caught fire, which spread into the wetlands and was still burning Saturday following the accident. Don Hartley, the Regional Coordinator for Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said accident responders would let the fire burn out and keep crews working to make sure the spill did not spread into a nearby slough.
Hartley told the Los Angeles Times that the marsh where the oil spilled is stagnant, so he did not feel there was any significant risk of the fuel spreading into other waterways. He said a check of the water systems showed drinking water in the area was not affected by the spill and was safe, and said representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were conducting tests to make sure the air is safe.
According to Genessee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI), the company that owns the AGR, crews are working around the clock to ensure that no further damage is done, and to make necessary repairs to reopen the rail line.
“Rail traffic is being rerouted to minimize the impact to customers. It is estimated that the rail line will be back in service by next weekend,” a GWI spokesman said. “A comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of the derailment is ongoing.”
A timber trestle that was near the accident scene was consumed by fire, but investigators are looking into the possibility that the trestle could have played a part in the cause of the accident.
AGR operates 348 miles of owned and leased tracks from Mobile, Ala., north to Kimbrough, Ala.; export terminals north to Columbus, Miss.; and leased tracks from Pensacola, Fla.