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Norfolk Southern

Hon. John Warner
U.S. Senate
225 Russell Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Hon. James Webb
U.S. Senate
144 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Hon. James Moran
U.S. House of Representatives
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Washington, DC 20515
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301 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

This page contains references and links to all electronic communications among City staff, and between City staff, Norfolk Southern, and the community regarding the establishment and operation of the Ethanol Transloading Facility. The communications, furnished in response to requests made under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, cover the period from June 20, 2006 at 8 a.m. to May 29, 2008, at 5 p.m.

E-mail addresses and telephone numbers have been redacted to protect the privacy of residents and of City staff whose home and mobile phone numbers were included on the communications. To contact City officials or staff, please use the links on the left side of this page, or Contact Us.

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Re: Norfolk Southern Ethanol

  • To: Michele Evans
  • Subject: Re: Norfolk Southern Ethanol
  • From: Adam Thiel/Alex
  • Date: 05 May 2008 12:05:35
  • Bcc:
  • Cc: Jim Hartmann


The answers aren't particularly clear-cut, since it's a market-driven operation and they are actively soliciting new customers; we'll contact them to confirm the present and maximum operating limits for the well as the current (they can go anywhere, depending on the customers) destinations for the loaded trucks. (Bottom-line, between the trains and the trucks, it's a 24/7 facility, although transloading only occurs during daylight hours, Monday-Friday.)

They created primary/secondary containment areas, installed a grounded/bonded/monitored product transfer system, added several new fire hydrants and eyewash stations, built additional fencing, and provided the shed with 1500 gallons of foam--which really doesn't help us and I'm cautious about raising anybody's expectation that we could actually respond to a fire incident and do anything to safely mitigate it at this point.

We've already done the research, as part of our needs assessment; there have been a number of incidents around the country, but with the growing "ethanol economy," the future is hard to predict. Norfolk Southern's take is that they've built the "BMW of ethanol transloading facilities." While that may be true, the location remains problematic and demands a robust response capability that does not currently exist in the region.

More to follow after I talk with them today.


Adam K. Thiel
Fire Chief
Alexandria Fire Department
900 Second Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Fax: xxx-xxx-xxxx
E-mail: text converted to image to prevent junkmail harvesting

Michele Evans/Alex

05/05/2008 11:01 AM

text converted to image to prevent junkmail harvesting
Re: Norfolk Southern EthanolLink

 I need for  you to contact them today and find out how many hours a day and how many days a week they expect the trucks to be running.

I need to know what provisions they have made already for safety - you mentioned that they had some foam in their shed.  I also need to know what is new there - the shed?  looks like that may have already been there.  the fence?  anything else.

Also please confirm that the tankers are going to the two tanks farms in Newington and Fairfax City, since we do not have anything in writing.  

Then I need for you to let them know in the next day or two  we will be sending something   to city council and later, the community, informing them that this is now a working operation.

  We will send them what we send out as soon as we do it, since I expect that they will get questions.

I would strongly suggest that you do some research on what if any accidents or incidents involving fire or spills have occurred around the country in ethanol off-loading operations and where .  Norfolk Southern may be able to help you.  I guarantee that the community and press will do this for us if we don't do it.    


Adam Thiel/Alex

05/03/2008 09:27 AM

Michele Evans/Alex@Alex
Re: Norfolk Southern EthanolLink

The trucks will be going in/out during the day.

Nothing written describing what they've done so far;
I'm sure we'll get something if/when they accept our proposal and/or provide a counter-offer. If not, I'll ask for a letter (I'd rather wait for that, since they keep beating the "we've already done so much" drum).



    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Michele Evans
    Sent: 05/03/2008 08:00 AM EDT
    To: Adam Thiel
    Subject: Re: Norfolk Southern Ethanol


My concern was whether or not the trucks were going during the day and the night which would be a neighborhood concern

Do you have a letter or anything from ns with what they have done to date to address safety?

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Adam Thiel
    Sent: 05/02/2008 10:36 PM EDT
    To: Michele Evans; Jim Hartmann
    Cc: Steve Mason
    Subject: Re: Norfolk Southern Ethanol

For all intents and purposes, it's a 24/7 operation. Transloading only occurs during the day, but tankcars are stored and moved all the time. (Switching empties for loads occurs nightly.)


    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Michele Evans
    Sent: 05/02/2008 07:22 PM EDT
    To: Jim Hartmann; Steve Mason; Adam Thiel; Ignacio Pessoa
    Subject: Norfolk Southern Ethanol


I have tried a slightly different approach with this text for our memo to council.  Please take a look and give me your feedback. The purpose is to inform council and then the community. I have left out all of the details of the letter to NSC .

Ignacio, since much  of this is from your email, would you be sure it is correct from the legal side?

Adam, do we have any photos of what this operation looks like?  It sounds bigger than it is, I think.  If we don't can we get some so people can see what we are talking about? Just a few  good photos of the site, showing the rail cars, a truck and the platform, fence and storage shed.      

My other question is what hours and days are they operating ?   Is it 24/7?  Can we find out?  A big question will be what are the operations, are they at night and on weekends.


Attachment "norfolksouthern2008.doc"