ALICEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Environmental workers are still cleaning up the site where a train carrying crude oil derailed and burned in west Alabama, and it's still unclear how petroleum escaped into surrounding waters seven weeks later, a regulatory agency said.
A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Jerome Hand, said the cleanup is continuing nearly two months after the crash occurred on a rural stretch of track near Aliceville.
But, Hand said, officials have yet to determine how much oil was spilled into nearby wetlands. The agency said coming up with a number is difficult because some crude spilled, some remained in tankers and an untold amount burned in a huge fire that engulfed the wreckage.
An environmentalist said he believes the agency knows more about the accident and resulting damaged than it will admit publicly.
"It's all by design to protect the industry from even being held truly accountable for the full amount if impact," said John Wathen of Hurricane Creekkeeper, a waterway protection group.
A train of 90 tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed near Aliceville on Nov. 8, catching fire and spilling crude oil. The area is near wetlands and a creek that flows into the Tombigbee River.