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Transloading

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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Ethanol Transfer Station at the Piggy Back Railyard on Metro Road


  • To: xxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx
  • Subject: Ethanol Transfer Station at the Piggy Back Railyard on Metro Road
  • From: Michael_Cross/Alex%ALEX
  • Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 22:17:51 -0500
  • Bcc:
  • Cc: Michael_Farri/Alex%Alex
  • Disposition-notification-to: Michael_Cross/Alex%ALEX
  • Importance: Normal
  • In-reply-to:
  • References:

I spoke with B/C Joe Hoffmaster this afternoon and he suggested that I make contact with you about an ethanol transfer station being built at an old railroad piggy back yard in Alexandria.  This project came to light from firefighters in Fairfax County while at a drill.  It seems that Fairfax County has been planning and providing training since about September to deal with the over-the-road transportation and transfer at the Newington tank farm.

 

I am well within my comfort zone when dealing with residential, commercial and highrise firefighting.   But, I really don’t know much about industrial firefighting, especially bulk storage/transfer of flammable liquids (nor does anyone in Alexandria).   I feel quite overwhelmed with the potential that this transfer station could pose, and the inadequate capabilities and training that Alexandria has for handling such a potential.   I would very much like to ask the assistance from people with a greater background related to industrial/flammable liquid storage fire problems.

 

As you can tell from the attached email trail, I have a lot of questions of operational concern for this project.   I share these concerns with you because if I don’t ask the questions, I will never learn.   Alexandria is just starting the planning process for necessary resources, initial action plans, departmental training, etc.   I would like to ask for your input on what Alexandria’s needs should be to be prepared for the potentials of this complex when it starts operations in April 2008.

 

The *.doc attachment is from our Code Enforcement Division that has met on site with the developers.   I, nor others in suppression, have been able to meet up with anyone yet on the development (I have not even seen site plans).   The initial evacuation *.pdf attachment is using the recommendations from the 2004 DOT ERG of 1,000’ for a large spill and ½ mile (2,640’) for fire impingement on a tanker or rail car.  

 

If you are able to provide some assistance in our planning efforts, I would greatly appreciate your time and value your input.

Michael Cross, Fire Captain
Fire Station 208 - C Shift
175 N. Paxton Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22304
FS208 - (703) 838-4658
Cell - (240) 508-6097
Email -  xxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx

-----Forwarded by Michael Cross/Alex on 12/19/2007 21:29 -----

To: Michael Farri/Alex@Alex
From: Michael Cross/Alex
Date: 12/11/2007 22:06
Subject: Re: Fw: Ethanol Transfer Station at the Piggy Back Railyard on Metro Road

The Fire Marshals’ meeting with Norfolk Southern provided some very basic information about the project, but does not address the operational issues needed to provide an adequate emergency response for when the facility begins operations in April 2008.

 

There have been two incidents that have occurred in the U.S. in the past week that heighten my awareness for the planning and training needs to effectively handle the magnitude of an incident that could result from this complex.   On December 5, a gasoline tanker overturned and burned in Everett, Mass.; and on December 8, a train derailment occurred in Baltimore, MD that involved two railcars of ethanol.  Please don't take this as being overbearing on the issue, but expressing a concern for not being prepared to handle similar potential incidents.

 

The incident in Everett, Mass. occurred from a speeding tanker truck that lost control and overturned.   The tanker spilled its 9,400 gallon load of gasoline into the street and burned, then spread to 21 cars, storm sewers, and 2 three-story row-style apartment buildings that left 47 people homeless.   News reports about this incident are suggesting that the Everett emergency response was chaotic, poorly coordinated and a tremendous amount of duplicated effort, and Everett’s Mayor is calling on all city officials to review the response and draft an emergency response plan.   Watching some of the raw footage from this incident is very dramatic.   Since this fire involved gasoline, the fire produced a typical bright orange to red flame with dense black smoke, which is typical for a hydrocarbon fire.   If this fire had been an alcohol-based (ethanol) fire, the flames would have been a pale blue (and possibly invisible) flame with no smoke, which would make identifying the burning product a much more difficult and dangerous operation.   The raw video can be seen at:   http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/14779455/index.html

 

The incident in Baltimore, MD occurred from three railcars jumping off the tracks.   The three tanks carried ethanol, with 2 being full of ethanol and the other being empty.   There was no leak of any product from this derailment.   It should be reminded that Baltimore, MD has a similar transfer facility that is planned for Alexandria.   Although this was a minor incident, the ethanol transfer facility in Baltimore probably brought the potential for a major incident should those railcars leaked their product.   If a tanker truck of 9,400 gallons of gasoline can produce a fire seen in the Everett video, how much fire potential could a derailment of up to six 30,000 gallon railcars create (as noted by the Fire Marshal report as the capacity for onsite storage).

 

The Fire Marshal report suggests that there will be 1,600 gallons if AFFF-AR in portable containers (i.e. 5 gallon pails) stored on site for use by AFD.   But, one should question is this an adequate quantity and container for our needs.   The NOVA Flammable Liquids SOP provides a very good needs assessment for the quantity of foam concentrate and the delivery vehicle necessary onsite BEFORE beginning foam operations (see the attached file Foam Application Worksheet).   The report does not mention the physical size of the containment system around the transfer pumps; but, assuming an area of 100’ x 75’ to contain the offloaded railcar, the tanker truck and the pump facility the foam needs would require and application rate of the foam solution at 1,500gpm, a foam concentrate rate of 90gpm resulting in a need for 3,600 gallons of foam concentrate onsite before operations can begin.   Clearly, using five gallon pails of foam will make it impossible to supply foam concentrate at a rate of 90gpm.   Also, the only foam application capabilities that the Alexandria has are engines with a 100gpm of foam solution through one attack line.   AFD will be solely reliant on mutual aid to provide the foam and delivery system to manage and incident at this facility.

 

The NOVA Flammable Liquids SOP (effective 9/23/07) identifies a standard response to any incident involving flammable liquid tanker trucks, horizontal tanks, tank farms, or 25 gallons from other containers, which is: 4 – Engines, Foam Task Force (two foam units, 1 – industrial, 1 – ARFF), 2 – Trucks (with one being a Tower), 1 – Rescue, 2 – Medic Units, 1 – Ambulances, 1 – Mass Casualty Unit, 2 – Battalion Chiefs, and a Hazardous Materials response (plus a full structural assignment if a building is involved).   This is a significant response that identifies very specific units to manage a potential incident.   But, our communications center is not aware of this standard response, nor are they aware of where to get the needed resources, nor is CAD capable of providing a recommendation for this incident type or resources.   If a caller were to report a gasoline tanker spill (or fire) today, they would dispatch a Haz Mat assignment consisting of 1 – Haz Mat Team, 3 – Engines, 1 – Medic Unit, 1 – Light & Air Unit, 1 – Battalion Chief, 1 – Battalion Aide, and 1 – EMS Supervisor.

 

The Fire Marshal report suggests that NFPA recommends the same firefighting procedures as a gasoline fire.   Caution should be used in drawing a parallel between alcohol based fire and hydrocarbon fires.   The hazards of alcohol fuels are greater considering the diminished visible flame and the need for alcohol resistant fuels deserve distinction from instead of similarity to hydrocarbon fuels.  

 

One firefighting procedure that has not been addressed is the evacuation needs.   The DOT ERG suggests an initial evacuation distance for a large spill as 1,000 feet, and ½ mile (2,600 feet) for fires involving rail cars or tank trucks.   An illustration of the affected areas is in the attached file Initial Evacuation Distances.pdf.

The Fire Marshal report indicates that a new 8” water main is being installed to provide 4 hydrants within the rail yard.   This water main appears to be a dead end main since it will come off of the 12” main along Metro Road run straight back within the property and end.   A better assessment of the needed fire flow should be reviewed to ensure the water supply will accommodate the 1,500gpm of foam concentrate and exposure protection lines with enough residual for other needs.

 

There is only one vehicle access point for this property.   The firefighting efforts will require a significant amount of specialized apparatus to gain access to the property.   An initial response plan should identify staging areas and initial operation actions that will maintain access to the property by Foam units with much longer response times.

These issues are in addition to my initail concerns identified.  If this development is actually happening, there are numerous operational issues that need to be addressed:

        • The water supply along Metro Rd is very limited.  The distance from the front gate of the rail yard to the end of the open paved space is about 3,000 feet with no hydrants on the property.  Plus, the closest hydrant is another 400 feet away at the entrance to the Metro parking lot
        • Ethanol burns as a true alcohol fire (no visible flame, no smoke), which needs additional awareness training.  It is highly flammable with a flammable range of 3.3% - 19%, vapor density is 1.03 (which is slightly heavier than air), the specific gravity in 0.8% (which will float on water)
        • Spills will quickly enter Backlick Run, which runs adjacent to the rail yard and abuts Cameron Station, then flows into Cameron Run to the Potomac River.  A large spill could send burning flammable liquids with an invisible flame and no smoke down the waterway next the Cameron Station, under Eisenhower Ave and the Beltway.
        • A major spill will require a significant amount of alcohol-resistant foam to be delivered to cover the spill to prevent a fire.  How much foam is needed to handle a spill from a rail car?  Where can we get this amount of foam?  How will we deliver this amount of foam.  Where do we get the water necessary to create the amount of foam needed?
        • What is the transportation corridor from moving the trucks from Alexandria to Newington?
        • What contingent plans has Fairfax made for handling an ethanol related incident?
        • How many rail cars of ethanol will be stored on the property at any time?
        • How much water is needed to cool a rail car of ethanol to prevent a BLEVE should there be a fire impinging on a rail car?
        • What evacuations would be necessary for a small, medium, large, or catastrophic release spill at this site?
        • What training, enhanced equipment or tools will we be acquiring to be able to be able to handle emergencies that could arise from having this facility in the City?


Michael Cross, Fire Captain
Fire Station 208 - C Shift
175 N. Paxton Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22304
FS208 - (703) 838-4658
Cell - (240) 508-6097
Email -  xxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx

-----Michael Farri/Alex wrote: -----

To: CShift Aide/Alex@Alex, Christopher Kunkle/Alex@Alex, Jeff Merryman/Alex@Alex, Phillip Perry/Alex@Alex, Daryl Ross/Alex@Alex, Jason Wehmeyer/Alex@Alex, Michael Cross/Alex@Alex
From: Michael Farri/Alex
Date: 11/30/2007 7:14
cc: Dwayne Bonnette/Alex@Alex
Subject: Fw: Ethanol Transfer Station at the Piggy Back Railyard on Metro Road

FYI....  Please read the attachment below.  This in the works as we speak.  Captain Cross, per our conversation in the near future, we need to do a walk though and preplan with the companies that would normally run .

Michael Farri
Battalion Chief
Alexandria Fire Department
Work xxx-xxx-xxxx
Cell    xxx-xxx-xxxx
xxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx

----- Forwarded by Michael Farri/Alex  on 11/30/2007 07:08 AM  -----


----- Forwarded by Michael Farri/Alex on 11/23/2007 01:30 PM -----

                  Michael Cross/Alex  

                  11/19/2007 10:30 PM

To

Michael Farri/Alex@Alex
cc

Jason Wehmeyer/Alex@Alex
Subject

Ethanol Transfer Station at the Piggy Back Railyard on Metro Road

During the 5001 Eisenhower Ave building familiarization drill this afternoon, the companies from Fairfax were talking about an ethanol transfer station that is being built in the CSX piggy back railyard off of Metro Road.  They said that rail cars of ethanol will be brought to this site in Alexandria, and the product off-loaded into tucks to be transported to the Newington fuel storage area.  According to the Fairfax group, this site will transfer fuel from rail cars for up to 40 tractor trailers per day.

It seems that they are aware of this development because it has an impact on Fairfax's service delivery in Newington and on the transportation corridor in Fairfax; and, they have been planning and training for this hazard.

If this development is actually happening, there are numerous operational issues that need to be addressed:
        • The water supply along Metro Rd is very limited.  The distance from the front gate of the rail yard to the end of the open paved space is about 3,000 feet with no hydrants on the property.  Plus, the closest hydrant is another 400 feet away at the entrance to the Metro parking lot
        • Ethanol burns as a true alcohol fire (no visible flame, no smoke), which needs additional awareness training.  It is highly flammable with a flammable range of 3.3% - 19%, vapor density is 1.03 (which is slightly heavier than air), the specific gravity in 0.8% (which will float on water)
        • Spills will quickly enter Backlick Run, which runs adjacent to the rail yard and abuts Cameron Station, then flows into Cameron Run to the Potomac River.  A large spill could send burning flammable liquids with an invisible flame and no smoke down the waterway next the Cameron Station, under Eisenhower Ave and the Beltway.
        • A major spill will require a significant amount of alcohol-resistant foam to be delivered to cover the spill to prevent a fire.  How much foam is needed to handle a spill from a rail car?  Where can we get this amount of foam?  How will we deliver this amount of foam.  Where do we get the water necessary to create the amount of foam needed?
        • What is the transportation corridor from moving the trucks from Alexandria to Newington?
        • What contingent plans has Fairfax made for handling an ethanol related incident?
        • How many rail cars of ethanol will be stored on the property at any time?
        • How much water is needed to cool a rail car of ethanol to prevent a BLEVE should there be a fire impinging on a rail car?
        • What evacuations would be necessary for a small, medium, large, or catastrophic release spill at this site?
        • What training, enhanced equipment or tools will we be acquiring to be able to be able to handle emergencies that could arise from having this facility in the City?
Michael Cross, Fire Captain
Fire Station 208 - C Shift
175 N. Paxton Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22304
FS208 - xxx-xxx-xxxx
Cell - xxx-xxx-xxxx
Email -
xxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx 


Attachment: Proposed Ethanol Offloading Facility at Norfolk Southern.doc
Description: MS-Word document

Attachment: Gasoline Tanker into Apartment Building in Everett Mass.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: Train Derailment with Ethanol in Baltimore on 12-8-07.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: Foam Application Worksheet.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: DOT ERG - Guide 127 (Flammable Liquids-Polar).pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: Initial Evacuation Distances.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document