Approximately 150 gallons of ethanol spilled at Norfolk Southern Railroad’s transloading facility near Van Dorn Street Metro station at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and the Alexandria Fire Department was not notified.
According to the railroad, the spill occurred when the ethanol was transferred from a railcar to a tanker truck and the tank was overfilled.
NSR’s overfill protection system was activated and the spill was contained by employees. There was no contamination to the surrounding area.
According to a statement from the City of Alexandria, railroad officials notified the National Response Center, which notified Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management, which then notified the Alexandria Fire Department of the spill. Norfolk Southern did not notify the fire department directly.
“The City and the Alexandria Fire Department will aggressively follow up with Norfolk Southern management regarding their failure to immediately notify the Alexandria Fire Department of the spill,” the statement reads.
High-octane ethanol is a volatile, highly flammable liquid that burns cleaner than gasoline. The substance cannot be transported by pipe for fear of it picking up impurities, so NSR moves the liquid by rail to its site just off Eisenhower Avenue and then loads it onto tanker trucks for delivery elsewhere in the region.
In September 2009, NSR failed to notify the city of an ethanol spill at the same facility.