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Delaware spill recedes

OFF THE RAILS The derailment of a New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway freight train on Aug. 13 spilled a significant quantity of diesel fuel into the Delaware River.
Photo courtesy of the NY State Police

Delaware spill recedes

Heavy rainfall helped disperse diesel fuel

By Meg McGuire | For Manor Ink

DEPOSIT, N.Y. – In the early morning of Aug. 9, a Susquehanna and Western Railway Corporation train derailed west of Hale Eddy Road in Deposit, N.Y.

Because of heavy rains, a culvert collapsed and two rail cars slid off the tracks and down the embankment into the West Branch of the Delaware River.

About 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the train’s punctured fuel tanks and into the river and was carried into the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.

There was no loss of life and no one was harmed in the derailment.

Railcars carrying the most toxic cargo — sulfuric acid and soil contaminated with low-level radioactive elements — remained upright, intact, and out of the water.

The train was running from New Jersey to Binghamton with four locomotives and 63 railcars. A sheen of oil and the smell of diesel was observed as far south as Lordville, N.Y.

The very same heavy rainfalls that caused the culvert to collapse also carried the oil out of the park.

Kris Heister, superintendent of the park, noted that there may be some residual oil in the river where flows are slow and asked that residents who observe a problem to call her at 570-729-8251, ext. 2225.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation was on the scene and boomed off the area of the spill, and approximately 65 tons of stockpiled soil will be removed and sent to a permitted landfill for disposal. NYDEC issued the following release, explaining how the cleanup will continue:

“The contractor will excavate a shallow three-foot wide and four-foot deep trench approximately 115 feet long in the area where three locomotives lost diesel fuel. The contractor will apply an EPA-approved liquid formulation of several microbial strains, surfactants and nutrients (called Micro-Blaze) designed to digest organics and hydrocarbons in soil and water as well as control odors. This bioremediation technique helps supplement natural ❭ Page 6

❮ Page 1 microbes that exist in the environment to speed up the breakdown of the petroleum products leaving behind only the harmless by-products of carbon dioxide and water. In addition, the contractors have been asked to remove any trash encountered once the cleanup is complete.”

The Friends of the Upper Delaware River, a not-for-profit organization based in Hancock, N.Y., and concerned about the Delaware River, has been keeping tabs on the clean up, and posts updates on its site at fudr.org.

Jeff Skelding, the executive director of FUDR, said that he will be following up with the NYSDEC and federal authorities on pictures they’ve received of a denuded river bank at the site, the details of culvert reparations, and ongoing evidence of injured waterfowl.

They, too, encourage residents who notice anything amiss to contact them at info@ fudr.org.

Meg McGuire is editor of the Delaware River news website delawarecurrents.com. Reach her at delawarecurrents@gmail.com.