Action Update: July 25, 2008
Brush Fire Detected and Extinguished; City Awaits Response to Security Request
On July 21, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a small brush fire occurred in the vegetation next to the privately owned side rail track that accesses Virginia Paving. The brush fire did not occur on the Norfolk Southern ethanol transloading site, and the closest rail tanker to the brush fire was about 100 feet away. Fire responded to the area, but could not reach the fire from the transloading facility. They reached the scene from Virginia Paving and quickly extinguished the fire. A Fire Marshal determined that the summer heat likely caused the fire; there was no accelerant found on the scene.
According to Fire personnel, brush fires can and do occur often in hot, dry conditions. As in this case, if a brush fire were to occur closer to a tanker, the Alexandria Fire Department is prepared to respond and mitigate the situation quickly. As result of this incident and related concerns, Fire Battalion Chief John North and Transportation & Environmental Services Division Chief Roy Worrell met with an RSI Leasing field representative at the transloading site to evaluate any issues with brush and possible effects on the transloading operation (RSI Leasing is the contractor that conducts the transloading operations at the Norfolk Southern facility). RSI/Norfolk Southern have agreed to remove the low brush along both fence lines, which should prevent brush fires.
The City is waiting for a response from Norfolk Southern regarding a request for 24/7 on-duty security personnel. Norfolk Southern is currently weighing its options regarding the security detail. However, as evidenced with this brush fire, even with security on site, the eyes and ears of the community may prove invaluable in reporting an incident. The continued vigilance of the community is needed and appreciated.
Vice-Mayor Del Pepper Testifies Before Surface Transportation Board
On July 22, Vice-Mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper provided testimony to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) regarding the process used to decide where a railroad can locate a facility for transloading hazardous materials from rail cars to trucks, or from trucks to rail cars. At the conclusion of the testimony, Vice-Mayor Pepper and Fire Chief Adam Thiel responded to questions from the STB members. Vice-Mayor Pepper's testimony is posted on the City's Web site.
City Staff Meeting with Transportation Security Administration Officials
On July 23, City staff met with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials, at their request, regarding the threat analysis of the Norfolk-Southern transloading site that was requested by Senator Warner and Congressman Moran in their June 20 letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security. TSA staff advised they are moving ahead with the threat analysis and sought City staff input on what staff thought the important issues of the study should be.
TSA expects to have a draft report completed in the next several weeks, which will then undergo internal reviews. They expect to have the final report to City staff within the next 60 days. Because of its sensitive nature, the report will not be available to the public or posted on the City's Web site.
For more information on the Norfolk Southern Ethanol Transloading Facility, contact Steve Mason, Project Manager and Special Assistant to the City Manager, at 703.838.3861 or email@example.com.