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Local News

Plainfield to seek federal reimbursement related to oil spill

Police, fire departments have kept records of resources used in response

PLAINFIELD – The village of Plainfield will be seeking financial reimbursement related to a June 30 train derailment that spilled more than 40,000 gallons of crude oil.

Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek, with assistance from Plainfield Fire Protection District Chief David Riddle, presented the Village Board Monday night with details about the response to the incident and its aftermath.

Mayor Mike Collins said both the police department and fire department kept copious notes on personnel, gasoline and vehicles used in response to the spill, which was a couple of hundred yards from the DuPage River near the village’s downtown core.

“That’s one of the questions we’ve been hearing since the derailment,” Konopek said. “Does the village have to eat the cost? We’ve been keeping records of all our response equipment we used. We will be forwarding that and seeking reimbursement after the after-action meeting.”

That meeting, in which agencies involved in the response will review the incident and what was learned from it, is scheduled for late August. Konopek did not say how much money the agencies are seeking from the federal government or specifics on what was used.

It is still not publicly known what caused the derailment. That question was asked Monday by Trustee Bill Lamb of Konopek. It has been previously reported by The Herald-News that the Federal Railroad Administration is expected to release its investigation report Oct. 1.

Konopek and Riddle also detailed their response and teamwork after being dispatched to the scene. An immediate “Raptor Level II” call for mutual aid was made. More than 40 local, state and federal agencies responded within two hours.

Naper-Plainfield Road, Route 126, Center Street and Lockport Street were all closed.

“With the exception of Route 59, our village was effectively cut in half by the remainder of the train cars,” Konopek said.

But they didn’t automatically know what the substance was.

“When we show up and see this, it could be anything from anhydrous ammonia, to grain, to crude oil,” Konopek said. “So we don’t know what we’re dealing with and we don’t know if we’re going to have to evacuate areas.”

That led to some confusion. The police department took to social media to squash rumors when it was learned there was no immediate threat.

The crude oil was not as unstable or likely to catch fire as Bakken crude, Konopek said, but it still would have caught fire if it came in contact with an ignition source.

“If it had to happen, this was the best spot. Six blocks either way you have residential areas, a couple hundred yards we have the DuPage River,” Konopek said. “If it would have derailed in either one of those locations, you would truly have an environmental disaster.”

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