On December 7th we received a call from Columbia County called to request that a spill response team be sent to the East Bloomsburg Bridge across from the airport in Bloomsburg for a train derailment.
Upon arrival found that the train had approximately 20 cars including 5 tank cars that had derailed. The fire department chief advised that one of the tanks was leaking Sodium Hydroxide. A representative from the train company was contacted and the Minuteman supervisor was advised that 2 of the tankers contained Sodium Hydroxide.
The technicians suited in level B with SCBA to assess the extent of the accident and to devise a containment strategy. The technicians also wanted to visually inspect the entire scene for any additional potential hazards and to document the tankers that were involved. There was the potential that the Methanol tankers could have product of a varying residual quantity; therefore extensive air monitoring was conducted.
When the technicians arrived approximately 100 feet from the first overturned tanker they witnessed a brownish colored pool of liquid approximately 20 feet wide. The product was tested for PH and a reading of 12 PH was documented. The location of the spill was documented and marked to examine if the spill was growing and needed additional containment. The Sodium Hydroxide tanker appeared to have been punctured by a steel rail underneath the tank. The technicians conducted extensive air monitoring around the outside of the tankers and only normal readings were observed.
The atmosphere inside a breach in the one Methanol tanker was extracted with a probe and high readings were experienced and alarm observed.
Due to the proximity of the derailed train to the Susquehanna River the decision was made to have our river deployment equipment on stand by.