PA -- The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission invites the public to participate in its first stakeholder
meeting concerning the Norfolk Southern settlement on Wednesday, March 12, at the Department of Conservation
and Natural Resources’ Region 1 Office in Emporium starting at 11 a.m.
The meeting is in response to the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania’s natural resources damage settlement with Norfolk Southern in November 2007 to resolve its
liability for a June 2006 derailment in McKean County. The derailment caused three railcars of a train operated by
Norfolk Southern to spill liquid sodium hydroxide into wetlands and to enter Big Fill Run, Sinnemahoning-Portage
Creek, and the Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. The release of liquid sodium hydroxide contaminated
soils, sediments, surface water, groundwater, and wetlands, and killed or injured fish and other aquatic life and
terrestrial plant and animal life.
As part of the agreement, Norfolk Southern will pay $3,675,000 to the Commission.
A portion of the settlement – $93,000 – will
be used to reimburse the Commission for costs incurred investigating and responding to the accident.
The Commission will deposit the remaining share of its settlement into an interest-bearing, restricted
revenue account that can be used only for the development and implementation of projects that benefit recreational
fishing and boating and the aquatic resources of Cameron, McKean, Elk and Potter counties. Initially,
the Commission will focus on projects in the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed upstream of the confluence with the First
Fork of Sinnemahoning Creek.
Prior to funding projects in the watershed affected by the derailment, the Commission
will convene a stakeholder group to seek input regarding the best ways to mitigate impacts stemming
from the sodium hydroxide spill. Projects that will be considered include, but are not limited to, acid
mine drainage abatement; habitat protection, enhancement and restoration; the acquisition of properties for public
fishing and access and improvements to existing access areas; and aquatic inventories. Commission staff will talk
to attendees about the process and priorities for restoration activities.
To participate in the first stakeholder meeting,
the public should go to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Region
1 Office located at 260 Sizerville Road, Emporium, on Wednesday, March 12, at 11 a.m.