On Nov. 7, 2013, an Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway L.L.C. (AGR) train derailed near Aliceville in west Alabama, resulting in fiery explosions and millions of gallons of crude oil spilled. However, promises of an aggressive cleanup in the affected wetlands have left environmentalists at the Waterkeeper Alliance questioning whether regulators are keeping their end of the deal.
“The environmental mitigation was never completely done,” John Wathen with the Waterkeeper Alliance told WBRC news. “And the measures I see out here today I believe they really thought that because it’s out of sight, out of mind, out in the middle of a swamp, that nobody was going to pay attention.”
The Regional Coordinator for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Don Hartley, promised once the oil spill occurred that cleanup crews would continue working around the clock to ensure the oil did not spread into a nearby slough. However, the Waterkeeper Alliance believes that the oil is still moving and currently headed toward a nearby river.
Both the EPA and Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) are overseeing the west Alabama swamp cleanup. According to the agencies, the rail line’s repair was first priority since they needed to get the oil and damaged rail cars out of the rail line’s path.
“The EPA and ADEM are continuing to work together to ensure all recoverable oil is removed from the site,” EPA spokesperson James Pinkney said.