Thirty gallons or less of ethanol spilled onto a concrete pad at the Norfolk Southern Corporations transloading facility Tuesday at about 9 a.m., where the company transfers the highly flammable chemical from train cars to tanker trucks, a city spokesman confirmed today.
The site is within 1,000 feet of two residential neighborhoods, Samuel Tucker Elementary School and Van Dorn Metro Station.
Norfolk Southern failed to notify the Alexandria Fire Department of the spill, according to city officials. Instead, about two hours later, the company notified the Virginia Department of Emergency Management which then notified the fire department 15 minutes afterward, according to a letter City Manager Jim Hartmann wrote to David Lawson, Norfolk Southerns vice president of industrial products.
Hartmann called the incident a failure to communicate, a comment epitomizing the companys relationship with the city. Norfolk Southern opened the facility in April of 2008 after a communication void among city officials and staff resulted in the corporations settlement on the West End despite the potential dangers involved with transferring the explosive chemical.
I firmly request that Norfolk Southern establish a protocol in which the Alexandria Fire Department’s Emergency 911 Communications is immediately notified of all ethanol- and transloading-related incidents that occur within the City of Alexandria, Hartmann stated in the letter.