At the Delaware River wharf where Appalachian coal trains once unloaded their cargo, 108 rail tankers lined up Tuesday to deliver a new distant energy source - crude oil from North Dakota.
The Eddystone Rail Facility, built on leased land surrounding an aging Exelon Corp. power plant, is the latest oil-by-rail facility to open in the area, adding capacity to handle the cheap domestic crude oil that has become the salvation of the region's financially embattled refineries - but has also raised safety concerns about unprecedented rail movements of oil.
"If we didn't do what we did, the refineries are gone," said Jack Galloway, who created Eddystone Rail Co. and enlisted Enbridge Inc., one of North America's largest energy distributors, as the operating partner in the project.
The Eddystone facility is designed to receive 80,000 barrels of light North Dakota crude a day, where it is unloaded into a storage tank, and then pumped onto barges and delivered to refineries along the Delaware River. The investors aim to eventually double capacity to 160,000 barrels a day, or about two "unit" trains containing 120 rail cars.Then this:
The Eddystone project cost $140 million to build, twice its initial estimate. Construction costs soared because of winter-weather delays. More than 600 people were involved in laying the tracks, restoring an existing 200,000-barrel storage tank on the site, and installing pumps and pipe work.
Enbridge employs 11 people to manage the facility. An additional 33 are employed by Railserve Inc., the contractor that switches the trains, pumps out the rail cars, and loads the barges.
The mile-long trains are broken into two parts and travel like a merry-go-round on two concentric loops of rail that encircle the Exelon power plant. Forty cars can be unloaded at one time. The facility contains 14,000 feet of rail.But this is really interesting:
Steven Turnbull, Enbridge's senior manager of rail services, called the facility state-of-the-art. It includes an underground containment system to collect any spills, a foam fire-suppressant system, and monitors to detect explosive gas leaks.
"I've spent 37 years in the refinery business and I have never seen the level of atmospheric detection system we have here," said Turnbull.
The facility also includes a vapor recovery system to collect the emissions from the crude oil and pump them back into the railcars.
"We export the fumes back to North Dakota," said Erik L. Johnson, the vice president of Canopy Prospecting.That was not a joke. LOL.