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Alexandria Poised To Fight Norfolk Southern Again

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Norfolk Southern Railroad is seeking to increase its liquid ethanol distribution.
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Norfolk Southern Railroad is seeking to increase its liquid ethanol distribution.

Officials in Alexandria are taking a stand against expansion of a hazardous materials facility on the city's border with Fairfax County.

Alexandria has already spent more than half a million dollars in an unsuccessful legal challenge against Norfolk Southern. The conflict centers around a translating facility that moves liquid ethanol —a class 3 hazardous material —from railcars to tanker trucks. Now the railroad wants to more than double the daily limit of operations at the facility, from 14 cars a day to 30 cars a day. Mayor Bill Euille says the city is ready to do anything necessary to oppose the application to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

"The thing that's totally unacceptable to me and to the city is the process that Norfolk Southern utilized. They did not come directly to the city to talk to us or to give us notice or anything. They went straight to DEQ."

Many neighbors in nearby Cameron Station say they are uncomfortable with the expansion of a hazardous materials facility within a few hundred feet of an elementary school. 

"They are transmitting basically fuel that could explode and it's right behind a school. I mean, anyone with common sense would say this just doesn't make sense," says Leslie Johnson, who has lived in Cameron Station since 2005.

The Alexandria City Council is set to take up a resolution tonight and formally opposing the expansion.

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