Feds: Broken spike caused Vandergrift derailment, oil spill
A broken railroad spike likely caused a Feb. 13 train derailment and crude oil spill in Vandergrift.
Federal investigators said the broken spike allowed the track to spread, becoming too wide for the Norfolk Southern train to pass safely.
Mike England, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration, confirmed the cause.
The investigation of the Vandergrift derailment was completed recently by the railroad agency and its report was obtained by the Valley News Dispatch through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Broken spikes do cause train derailments on occasion, England said.
No violations were reported during the federal review, and the investigation is closed, he said.
“Just because there is an accident, it doesn't mean that the railroad did anything wrong,” England said
Dave Pidgeon, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said he had nothing to add to the investigators' report.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said the nation and industry must learn from rail accidents.
“The derailment in Vander-grift and others across the state should serve as a wake-up call that we need to improve rail safety,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“Dependable rail travel is vitally important to Pennsylvania's economy and critical to the safety of the millions of Americans who live near rail lines. I will continue to push for improvements to prevent future derailments,” Casey said.
“Among other measures, it is imperative that the Federal Railroad Administration has the resources it needs to hire rail inspectors to prevent this from happening again,” he said.
According to the report, two trains used the Vandergrift track hours before the derailment without incident.
No injuries were reported among the engineer, locomotive engineer trainee and conductor on board the derailed train. Three MSI Corp. employees were evacuated when one of the rail cars went through the wall of a company building near the tracks.
The first car to derail was the 67th car in the train of 112 loaded cars and seven empty cars. The 67th through 88th cars derailed, including 19 loaded with crude oil and two with liquid propane gas.
The train originated in Conway, Pa., and was on its way to Harrisburg and points east.
After the derailment, the railroad “did a fair amount” of work on tracks in the accident area, where train traffic has resumed, Pidgeon said.
The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration this year determined the Vandergrift derailment to be the 14th most significant involving crude oil or ethanol in the past eight years. That report stated that 10,000 gallons of oil spilled in the Vandergrift derailment.
In contrast, the Federal Railroad Administration report states that only 4,310 gallons of heavy crude oil was released.
Damage to equipment in the accident is estimated at $1.76 million, according to the report.
In addition, about $240,000 in damage was caused to the track and $30,000 to a signal.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com. Staff writer Chuck Biedka contributed.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show
- Teen girls to get all done up for free in prom prep day
- Slide threatens to block access to Harmar neighborhood
- Route 819 in Bell Township reopened after fatal car accident
- Retired New Kensington attorney Robert McVey spent life helping people
- Washington Township awards $244,000 street-paving contract
- SUVs collide near Laneville bridge; truck flips in Washington Township crash
- Despite deficit, no tax hike in Burrell School District
- Leaking gas prompts major line replacement in Arnold
- Trio of programs fights drug problem around Western Pennsylvania
- Golf resort in Plum being demolished; use for property undecided