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Public Lab Research note


Post-Ida Nurdle Spill from Plastic Rail Car derailment: lessons from Raceland

by eustatic | September 09, 2021 19:09 09 Sep 19:09 | #27716 | #27716

Following up on Plastic in NRC data:

https://publiclab.org/notes/eustatic/09-23-2020/querying-the-us-national-response-center-s-data-for-reports-of-plastic-to-the-us-coast-guard-with-skytruth-org

I have deepened my understanding of where to find information on plastic spilled during train derailments and incidents, after local residents asked me to investigate a recent, post-Ida derailment.

Within the NRC tables, there is a "DERAILED_UNITS" tab that has a "CAR_CONTENT" field

The DERAILED_UNITS --> CAR_CONTENT has the "plastic" label

This photo was taken by Civilian Air Patrol, who is flying in support of FEMA.

CAP

https://disasters.geoplatform.gov/imagerybrowser/?webmap=2c7dabb4a0594861a8bac3944b931d2d

National Response Center Record 131 5801 train derailment.
https://alerts.skytruth.org/report/3e731bdb-b03d-73c4-0fa4-09865390d62e/

Report Details
NRC Report ID: 1315801
Incident Time: 2021-09-04 12:20:00
Nearest City: Raceland, LA
Location: MILE POST 42.2
Incident Type: RAILROAD NON-RELEASE
SkyTruth Analysis
Lat/Long: 29.747222, -90.609444 (Explicit)
Report DescriptionCALLER IS REPORTING THAT FOUR CARS DERAILED FROM A FREIGHT TRAIN ON A PASSENGER TRAIN LINE. THE CAUSE IS UNKNOWN. DOUBLE MAIN TRACK IS CLOSED. NO DELAYS TO PASSENGER SERVICES.

See attached for a large nurdle spill into wetlands in lafourche parish after Ida.

The Release of Plastic is considered a "Railroad Non-Release", although this waterway is connected to the Lake Boeuf Wildlife Management Area.

Within the NRC tables, there is a "DERAILED_UNITS" tab that has a "CAR_CONTENT" field

The DERAILED_UNITS --> CAR_CONTENT has the "plastic" label for these four cars, in incident 131 5801, which have visibly spilled plastics.

| SEQNOS| TRAIN_NAME_NUMBER| CAR_NUMBER| CAR_CONTENT| POSITION_IN_TRAIN| DERAILED_TYPE| | 1315801| HLALNSI1-02| FINX10809| PLASTIC| | CAR| | 1315801| HLALNSI1-02| FINX50062| PLASTIC| | CAR| | 1315801| HLALNSI1-02| CEFX54545| PLASTIC| | CAR| | 1315801| HLALNSI1-02| CBFX470967| PLASTIC| | CAR|

I can work on review a history of NRC incidents, and thus locations with this "CAR_CONTENT" = 'PLASTIC'

It would also be interesting to see, by block group, or county, which block groups or counties have the largest number of PLASTIC car incidents per mile of railroad.


6 Comments

A third question is, is this visible on MODIS or other satellite imagery?

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John Amos of Skytruth.org graciously looked this up on PlanetScope imagery, and got a before and after.

Although it seems highly unlikely, this spill was visible from space. I highly doubt that satellite imagery will normally be this useful, though, as the nurdle spill is very hard to discern--it has no shape, although the size is roughly a rail car, the glare from the albedo of an all-white material gives it a large halo. at a glance, it looks the same as a white-roofed building.

planet_imagery_09_04_2021_NRC_1315801_nurdles_before.png

planet_imagery_09_07_2021_NRC_1315801_nurdles_after.png

train_derailment_raceland_Ida_nurdles_1315801.jpg

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NRC list of SEQNOS, 2010-2021 https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rCoHnETFjOQfeVTuPjGnlWakk0X0JS6mYyxxCanq8N4/edit#gid=0

CSV

annual_NRC_plastic_by_rail_spills_2021.png

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annual_NRC_plastic_by_rail_spills_2000_2021.png

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Looking through NRC through Jan 1 2000, I have found 632 cars, from 125 incidents, that are likely candidates. I have found 514 cars from 71 incidents that are certainly incidents to look for.

I will ask Skytruth to help us create a map and index the NRC Commons info, if they have the time.

The second question remains, where are these incidents happening, and where in relation to the relative amount of track.

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