Five Minutes with Bob Andrews, CEO of the Bob Andrews Group

Jul 17, 2014, 6:00am CDT UPDATED: Jul 17, 2014, 10:35am CDT

Reporter-San Antonio Business Journal
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President & CEO Robert C. Andrews, Jr. BAG-ERS

Bob Andrews, the CEO of the Bob Andrews Group, says South Texas communities face challenges in fire protection and safety as they deal with Eagle Ford Shale growth.

San Antonio-based Bob Andrews Group, an entity that provides fire-protection services for public- and private-sector clients, has expanded recently to keep pace with the rocketing growth in domestic oil-and-gas production. While some of the company’s new ventures are focused on the shipping and storage of oil, it also has beefed up staff to help South Texas businesses and communities deal with building and development challenges brought on by the exploding Eagle Ford Shale.

We asked founder and CEO Bob Andrews to discuss permitting and safety issues faced by South Texas municipalities and to outline his company’s recent growth.

Q: Fire protection and code issues have become significant in South Texas communities dealing with brisk growth from the Eagle Ford Shale. Is that an opportunity Bob Andrews Group is exploring?

A: The Bob Andrews Group provides a unique combination of both emergency response and fire protection engineering services which can be greatly beneficial to those companies and those communities that are having to deal with the rapid growth in the Eagle Ford. We provide municipalities with engineering, plans review and code compliance support. Municipalities are often unable to grow their staffs fast enough to keep up with private sector growth. In order for Texas and other states experiencing major energy-related growth to expand safely, we must make sure that all new construction meets the applicable fire- and life-safety codes. A major part of keeping our communities safe is in the plans review and permitting process.

Protection Development Inc., one of the Bob Andrews Group companies, is unique in that we have the proven experience in working with municipalities, as an outside resource, to help them through this growth period. For our private sector clients, making sure that their construction packages, when submitted for review, are complete and meet all code requirements allows their project to proceed through the system as fast as possible. We also routinely conduct technical analyses, often required by regulatory agencies in the region. Specifically, in the city of San Antonio, there is a cutting edge program that fast-tracks projects reviewed and certified by our fire protection engineers. In summary, it’s not just about growth, but rather, responsible growth. We are proud to be doing our part to make sure that safety is an integral part of making America energy independent.

Q: I understand that PDI has done some recent hiring. Talk a little about that.

A: PDI is a fire protection engineering firm located in San Antonio that provides fire protection design and code review services throughout Texas. PDI Fire, as we are known locally, recently hired personnel in the fire protection design, permitting and codes-review departments to make sure that we are able to maintain our high level of customer service during what is a major growth period for us. Our growth is in a large part directly related to the overall economic growth affecting San Antonio, the Eagle Ford and the rest of Texas.

Yung Wei Tang, P.E., has been promoted to fire Protection engineer – modeling specialist. Yung Wei has a master’s degree in fire protection engineering and will be helping our clients with complicated projects. He brings special experience in smoke-control modeling and other specialized computer-modeling techniques. Yung provides our clients with considerable talent in the analysis of complex fire protection problems and systems.

We have added Robert Waxler to our engineering department. Robert was recruited from the Austin Fire Department where he worked in the fire prevention office and performed building and fire plans review. Robert has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has considerable experience in the design review of fire protection systems.

David Emler has returned to PDI to manage our permitting department. This department assists building owners, architects, contractors and developers through the sometimes-complicated permitting process. This not only helps our clients, but also helps governmental entities keep up with their growing demands. We do this by ensuring that permitting package submittals are both accurate and complete, reducing the number of resubmitted packages. The result is an expedited review/permitting process for all parties.

Q: The Bob Andrews Group did a recent reorganization. What prompted that?

A: The reorganization affects personnel in both PDI and the Bob Andrews Group.

First, John R. Cochrane, P.E., has returned to full-time status with PDI. John was one of the founding members of PDI back in 1985 and was serving as the President of PDI when he was activated as a Navy Captain after 9-11. He took a leave of absence from PDI to lead the port security efforts for Navy installations throughout the Puget Sound. After his Navy duty, John remained with PDI as a consulting principal fire protection engineer, specializing in major project work as well as legal consulting. John is managing this major growth phase as the senior vice president and general manager of PDI. John brings over 40 years of firefighting and fire protection engineering experience along with his lifelong personal relationships throughout our industry, not only in the San Antonio area but nationwide.

Second, we have added to Sam Goldwater’s responsibilities. Sam, as senior vice president of the Bob Andrews Group, has also been assigned the position of senior vice president – business development of PDI and assigned the duties of senior fire protection consultant. Similar to John Cochrane, Sam also has over 40 years of fire protection experience and has specific experience working with fire departments and government agencies. He is helping local governments, especially those jurisdictions in the Eagle Ford, deal with the operational and governmental compliance challenges that are arising from our regional growth. Sam has worked with fire departments coast-to-coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago, helping them improve operationally – in many cases by introducing new technologies.


Texas experts: States need “SWAT-like teams” to put out oil train fires

By:  | 

States are going to need SWAT-like teams if they want to put out the huge fires that can start when trains carrying crude oil derail, say two men who want to launch a “specialty fire department” in Pennsylvania funded by private and public dollars.

Recent derailments have revealed not only safety vulnerabilities, but a “yawning gap in emergency response,” wrote McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Curtis Tate in the June 17 article – echoing the findings of our Center’s ongoing investigation into the lack of preparedness for such incidents in Maine.

The two men, Bob Andrews and Sam Goldwater, are both affiliated with the San-Antonio based Bob Andrews Group, and told McClatchy Washington Bureau they’ve gotten a “favorable response” from state and federal officials they’ve approached.

“It is not fair for the community, at the local or state level, to create an environment where well-meaning volunteers will feel compelled to commit themselves to conducting highly-hazardous operations, that they are neither trained, nor equipped to perform,” Andrews testified in March before a Pennsylvania House of Representatives committee.

The solution so far has been expanding training for firefighters and other first responders – and an International Association of Fire Fighters spokesman told McClatchy he thinks that’s still the best approach. “It is the duty of government to provide the resources needed for hazmat response,” he said, “and this public safety discussion should not be driven by profit motive.”

The pair told McClatchy if anyone wanted to make lots of money, “this is not the thing to do.” They said expanding training for emergency personnel isn’t enough when firefighters are facing 20 percent attrition rates, increased call volumes and difficulty balancing full-time jobs with training.

Oil train fires require SWAT teams, veteran firefighters tell states

By Curtis Tate

McClatchy Washington Bureau, June 17, 2014

Workers clean up derailed tank cars in downtown Lynchburg, Va., Thursday, May 1, 2014. CSX has been moving unit trains of Bakken crude oil through Lynchburg to a rail-to-barge terminal in Yorktown, Va., since December, but some city officials said they weren’t notified. Read more here:

Workers clean up derailed tank cars in downtown Lynchburg, Va., Thursday, May 1, 2014. CSX has been moving unit trains of Bakken crude oil through Lynchburg to a rail-to-barge terminal in Yorktown, Va., since December, but some city officials said they weren’t notified.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — _ A pair of Texans with decades of firefighting experience is encouraging state and local government leaders to consider establishing SWAT-like response teams for crude oil train fires.

A series of derailments of trains loaded with crude oil in the past year has exposed numerous safety vulnerabilities, including the integrity of the rail cars, the condition of the tracks and the way the trains are operated.

It’s also revealed a yawning gap in emergency response. Most fire departments across the country are simply not trained or equipped to fight the enormous fires seen in recent derailments.

“Emergency response is the most difficult part,” said Bob Andrews, founder and president of the San Antonio-based Bob Andrews Group, who has both firefighting experience and knowledge of the rail industry.

Groups representing firefighters, fire chiefs and emergency management agencies have testified in Congress in recent months that derailments such as those in Quebec, Alabama and North Dakota are beyond their response capabilities.

“There’s only so much training you can do,” said Sam Goldwater, Andrews’ business partner. “Our first responders are pretty much maxed out.”

Andrews and Goldwater said they’ve received a favorable response so far from the state and federal officials they’ve approached. Several states have expressed interest in their plan, but a proposal for a specialty fire department in the Philadelphia region is the furthest along. They envision for their proposal to be a mix of public and private funds.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to work something out in Pennsylvania,” Andrews said after a recent meeting with state officials.

Entire trains of tank cars loaded with crude oil snake through Pennsylvania’s capital city every day, bound for refineries and terminals along the East Coast. The trains carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and western Canadian tar sands oil to a cluster of refineries and barge terminals in the Philadelphia area.

Andrews and Goldwater say that airports and refineries have their own firefighting teams with special expertise and equipment. And, they say, that’s precisely what’s demanded by the rise in crude oil shipments by rail.

“You need the airport idea,” Goldwater said, “but you need it for the 1,400 miles between North Dakota and the Delaware River.”

In March testimony before a Pennsylvania House of Representatives committee, Andrews said that the nation’s 783,000 volunteer firefighters are dedicated to their work. But according to the National Volunteer Fire Council, their ranks have declined 13 percent since 1984.

“It is not fair for the community, at the local or state level, to create an environment where well-meaning volunteers will feel compelled to commit themselves to conducting highly-hazardous operations, that they are neither trained, nor equipped to perform,” Andrews testified.

One such incident took place in West, Texas, in April 2013. A massive explosion at a fertilizer storage facility killed 11 firefighters from five departments. In July last year, a 72-car train of Bakken crude oil rolled away and derailed at high speed in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The inferno killed 47 people and leveled much of the business district.

“Volunteer fire fighters and emergency response personnel being thrust into catastrophic events without adequate training or resources is a widespread problem that needs to be addressed,” wrote the National Transportation Safety Board after a toxic chemical leak from a rail car in November 2012 in Paulsboro, N.J.

Tim Burn, a spokesman for the International Association of Fire Fighters, said that a broad-based training program was still the best approach.

“It is the duty of government to provide the resources needed for hazmat response,” he said, “and this public safety discussion should not be driven by profit motive.”

Goldwater said he and Andrews expected a return on their investment. However, he added, if anyone wanted to make lots of money, “this is not the thing to do.”

So far, the impulse of government and industry has been to simply fund more training for emergency personnel. But Andrews said that might not be the most effective approach. The firefighting profession experiences an attrition rate of about 20 percent a year. Call volumes have increased, putting more pressure on volunteer and career firefighters alike. It’s difficult for volunteers with full-time jobs to take off time for training, and most departments can’t afford to pay for it.

The Association of American Railroads, the industry’s leading advocacy organization, has offered to train 1,500 emergency responders at its rail testing facility in Pueblo, Colo. But with the random and rare nature of train derailments, the odds aren’t good that a limited number of trained personnel scattered across the country will be where they’re needed when something happens.

Andrews and Goldwater say their plans would be geographically tailored. Philadelphia is a major destination for crude oil, so its response needs may be different from places such as Albany, N.Y., or Sacramento, Calif., where oil trains pass through.

Workers clean up derailed tank cars in downtown Lynchburg, Va., Thursday, May 1, 2014. CSX has been moving unit trains of Bakken crude oil through Lynchburg to a rail-to-barge terminal in Yorktown, Va., since December, but some city officials said they weren’t notified.

Email:; Twitter: @tatecurtis

Crude oil trains revive Philadelphia refineries but deliver new risks


McClatchy Washington BureauApril 7, 2014

Chunks of concrete are falling off Philadelphia's 25th Street Viaduct, which stretches for several city blocks in South Philadelphia. Two or three loaded crude oil trains pass over the 86-year-old structure every day, bound for Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a sprawling refinery complex that's now the largest single consumer of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota. CURTIS TATE — MCT

Chunks of concrete are falling off Philadelphia’s 25th Street Viaduct, which stretches for several city blocks in South Philadelphia. Two or three loaded crude oil trains pass over the 86-year-old structure every day, bound for Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a sprawling refinery complex that’s now the largest single consumer of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota. CURTIS TATE — MCT

PHILADELPHIA — Just a few years ago, the region’s refineries were on life support, hurt by high prices of oil imported from foreign countries. Now, they’re humming again with the daily deliveries of domestic crude in mile-long trains.

As one of the country’s largest destinations for crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region, Philadelphia illustrates both the benefits, and risks, of a massive volume of oil moving by rail.

“It’s a good marriage,” said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry group. “Ultimately, it will be good for the consumer.”

But even as the oil and the trains that bring it may have saved refineries and jobs, they’re testing the limits of the city’s infrastructure and emergency response capabilities.

In January, seven loaded tank cars derailed on the 128-year-old Schuylkill Arsenal Railroad Bridge over the Schuylkill River. Though no crude was spilled, one car dangled precariously over the river and Interstate 76. Investigators blamed it on faulty track maintenance.

“We always hear that things will never happen,” testified former Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., a former firefighter and mayor of nearby Marcus Hook, Pa., at a hearing last month, “but things always happen.”

The city grew up around its rail network, so the only way to the refineries for trains is through town. Some rumble over a steel viaduct through the campuses of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Others snake through a tunnel under the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art and the steps made famous by Rocky Balboa.

One of the main routes to the sprawling refinery complex in South Philadelphia crosses a crumbling viaduct for several blocks through a residential neighborhood. Railroad officials say the 86-year-old viaduct is structurally sound, but residents are concerned about the chunks of concrete that regularly fall into the street.

“It may be perfectly safe, but the impression it gives just by looking at it is something else,” said Roy Blanchard, a longtime South Philadelphia resident knowledgeable about the railroads.

Robert Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX, which owns the structure and operates trains over it, said the viaduct was designed to accommodate heavy commodities, such as iron ore and coal, and the railroad is planning to improve it. It already has hired a contractor to begin removing loose sections of concrete.

While other major endpoints for oil trains, including Albany, N.Y., and towns in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, have attempted to slow or stop the shipments because of environmental and safety concerns, Philadelphia largely has welcomed the boom.

State and local officials hailed the opening in October of a rail yard that now unloads two 120-car trains carrying 80,000 barrels of oil every day to feed the largest refinery complex on the East Coast. A partnership between Sunoco and the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, created Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which employs 1,000 workers.

Without Bakken oil to replace expensive imports, the refinery would have closed.

Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, flanked by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Rep. Robert Brady, both Democrats, called the revived operation “a symbol of the connection that exists between Pennsylvania’s expanding energy industry and the potential we have to achieve energy independence in North America.”

But it’s also created new challenges for emergency response agencies.

A series of fiery derailments involving Bakken crude oil since last summer has raised questions about whether government and industry fully accounted for the risks before railroads began hauling it. The worst killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Others in Alabama and North Dakota, while not fatal, drove home the need for new precautions.

“This crude is not the crude of old,” said Robert Full, chief deputy director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Full was testifying before a state House of Representatives oversight hearing last month in nearby Eddystone, Pa., the site of a rail-to-barge facility set to open this month. It will unload two trainloads of crude oil a day by the end of the year.

Bob Andrews, a Texas entrepreneur and fire protection engineer, testified that Pennsylvania should consider developing a specific crude-by-rail response plan to protect communities and the investment they have in keeping the oil moving.

“The Philadelphia area is a good place to start,” he said.


32sdG.La.91Clifford Gilliam, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Fire Department, said the oil shipments don’t change emergency response procedures, but the department is preparing for the possibility of an event larger in size and scope than what it’s planned for in the past.

He said the department has a good working relationship with the railroads and refineries and “has the training and capability to handle hazmat incidents and, if warranted, join forces with other agencies.”

The rail operations, and risks, cross into Delaware and New Jersey. Norfolk Southern delivers a train every other day to a Sunoco terminal across the Delaware River in Westville, N.J., with plans to double the shipments later this year.

Getting the cars into the Westville facility requires repeat backup moves that block two four-lane highways on a track only feet from several homes.

The drawbridge the trains cross was completed in 1896. An $18.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation helped pay for repairs to the aging span in 2011, before the oil trains began rolling across it.

At Eddystone, south of Philadelphia International Airport, workers are putting the finishing touches on new tracks that will transfer 160,000 barrels of oil daily from trains to barges by the end of the year. The companies involved in the operations say they’ve accounted for the risks.

CSX reached an agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency last month to give first responders access to the railroad’s shipment tracking system. Norfolk Southern, which plans to supply the Eddystone facility, intends to offer safety training.

Jack Galloway, president of Canopy Prospecting, one of the companies developing the Eddystone facility, assured lawmakers last month that it would be “top of the line,” equipped with containment units under the trains and floating barriers around the barges.

“We don’t think there’s any possibility of this oil getting away,” he said.

Email:; Twitter: @tatecurtis


Crude oil train safety in spotlight

Melissa Nann Burke and Jeff Montgomery, The News Journal

11:52 a.m. EDT March 10, 2014

Crude oil tank cars move along the Norfolk Southern rail line near I-95 on Feb. 11. (Photo: ROBERT CRAIG)

Crude oil tank cars move along the Norfolk Southern rail line near I-95 on Feb. 11.

Lawmakers have summoned first-responders and refinery and railroad reps to a community meeting Monday night in Delaware City to discuss emergency-response plans for the mile-long trains hauling volatile crude oil across Delaware each day.

Panelists hope to address locals’ concerns about the scale of risk to life and property following accidents involving exploding tank cars, including one in Quebec, Canada, in July that killed 47 and another in North Dakota that caused millions in damage in December.

Last month, 21 tank cars on a Norfolk Southern train – 19 carrying crude – derailed in western Pennsylvania, with four spilling oil.

“We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen here,” said state Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, who helped organize the gathering.

“At civic meetings, they’re talking about safety: What is actually in those cars? What would happen if there’s a derailment? Who would be notified, and who would be working together to contain it? I hope there will be a level of comfort, knowing what that plan is.”

Emergency managers and first-responders say they’re prepared, while training continues. A Norfolk Southern-sponsored countywide drill in August will involve a tank car.

Some community leaders worry that response procedures have yet to be refined, and specialized gear is stored too far away. Officials also say that first-responders aren’t notified when hazardous shipments move through the county.

“This is not going to go away. We want the refineries to be competitive, and this is the cheapest crude,” said Rep. Ed Osienski, who represents a portion of Newark.

“What I’m really worried about is whether the state and county and local emergency responders and [environmental officials] are sure they have what they need to be prepared and trained, and I don’t want the taxpayers to have to pay for it.”

Poll: Crude Oil Tank Cars

Emergency orders

Concerns about rail safety have spread beyond the communities bordering the Norfolk Southern tracks that serve the PBF Energy-owned refinery near Delaware City.

Tank cars bearing crude-oil hazard placards are regularly moving on CSX tracks through Wilmington and Newark. CSX does not serve Delaware City, but delivers crude to Philadelphia Energy Solutions at the former Sunoco refinery in southwest Philadelphia.

In February, federal officials announced emergency testing for crude moving by rail, saying the system had become an “imminent hazard” to public health and the environment.

Crude from the Bakken Shale deposits in North Dakota is more volatile than other oils, containing more combustible gases.

Both CSX and Norfolk Southern say they’re working with regulators as part of a voluntary agreement reached last month to increase track inspections, slow crude trains in major cities and develop increased training for emergency responders.

“Overall, the rail industry is a safe industry. We’re very proud of that record, but we’re constantly endeavoring to raise that bar,” Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon said.

Congressional and state oversight and reform studies of the crude-by-rail industry are underway. State Rep. John Kowalko has scheduled a House Energy Committee hearing for March 26 in Dover on the topic.

But the decks are stacked badly against the public as the number of crude trains increases, said Fred Millar, a hazardous-materials specialist who has testified before Congress on rail-cargo hazards.

“It’s not just the tracks that are not necessarily ready, it’s the whole railroad infrastructure and regulatory program,” said Millar, a member of the Local Emergency Planning Commission in Washington, D.C.

Millar noted that guidance from the American Association of Railroads in August recommended that railroad operators prohibit the public release of information about hazardous cargo shipments when sharing it with local emergency planning committees for their needs.

“The only people being kept in the dark about the risk are members of the public,” Millar said. “These are giant, 90-ton tank cars. They’re like elephants tip-toeing through the tulips. They have placards on their sides saying exactly what’s in them. But the fire services are not going to be willing to give information to the public, because they’re desperate for information for their plans.”

Wilmington Councilwoman Maria Cabrera was shocked that haulers are not required to notify state or local emergency managers about hazardous cargo shipments.

“At the moment, as a resident, I feel vulnerable,” she said. “Why shouldn’t we be informed about what’s being transported and when it’s being transported?”


Some fire professionals say crude-by-rail risks are high enough to warrant an industrial fire-fighting “mega-station” to serve the Mid-Atlantic, under a model similar to the cooperative spill-response complex maintained by Delaware River refineries.

Robert C. Andrews, chief executive officer of Bob Andrews Group, said his company would be headquartered in a central location, such as Delaware County, Pa., with the possibility of satellite sites to improve response times.

“We’re still evaluating locations,” Andrews said last week, noting Delaware City had been suggested. “The state of Delaware called us [last week] and tried to entice us to do that. We’re still in the search. I think we’ll widen out to more locations.”

Experts emphasize the importance of stockpiling equipment and regular inspection, testing and maintenance of supplies as crucial to readiness.

“If you look at some of the events that have happened recently, like the event that just happened in North Dakota, the fires there burned for several days,” Andrews said. “The basic model is, you need to have enough people and special training and equipment to deal with some of these things, and nobody should have to pay for it themselves.”

Scott Spencer, a rail-industry consultant, is urging lawmakers to require trains to carry emergency equipment such as oil booms, protective gear and fire-fighting foam concentrate on board.

“Response time is so critical to prevent the oil from moving off into adjacent waterways or to bring fire under control. This would effectively serve to protect communities along the entire route,” said Spencer, who lives in Wilmington.

Locally, officials might stage gear and resources at points along crude-oil routes for easier access, New Castle County Emergency Management Director Dave Carpenter said.

Supplies of foam concentrate are now kept at fire companies, the refinery and at Dover Air Force Base. An inventory is underway of what type of foam is stored where, and how much, Carpenter said. “We’re also developing guidelines for responders and a resource for them to use for training,” he said.

David H. Irwin Jr., chair of the New Castle County Local Emergency Response Committee, said the state has the capability to rush order additional foam from a supplier, if needed.

“The processes are in place,” he said. “Everyone is working together to ensure that we’re as prepared as we can be, and hopeful we will never have to put it to use.”

More shipments

Crude hauls to Delaware City average three trips in and three trips out each day, said Rep. Osienski, who’s been briefed by rail officials.

That frequency could jump to four trips a day by year’s end, according to company projections. PBF last week told investors that Delaware City can take in 145,000 barrels of crude by train a day. That’s expected to increase to 210,000 barrels a day – about 350 carloads – by the end of 2014.

PBF Executive President Thomas D. O’Malley has announced that all of Delaware City’s lighter crudes will arrive in cars equipped with the most-modern safety features by April 1 – with the same standards reached for all heavy crude deliveries by July.

“We’re doing everything we can by providing the safest rail cars available to deliver this crude, but if you don’t keep the trains on the tracks, it’s a really tough game,” he told an investor conference earlier this year.

The refinery recently agreed to fund safety upgrades at three highway crossings, including the installation of crossing gates at Del. 7 and 9, said Robert Perrine, railroad program manager for DelDOT.

“There’s been close calls recently at Route 9,” he said. “Cars are trying to zoom through before they get stuck waiting for the train to go through at 2 miles an hour.”

Just north of Wilmington, Rose Porter has noticed an uptick in the number of tank cars moving over the CSX tracks behind her home on Rockwood Road.

“It’s usually loud,” she said. “I really do hope they double check the safety, because if one of those cars comes off the track and falls, you’re looking at it going right into my family room. The houses are so close [to the tracks] here, it could be anyone or all of us.”

CSX would not confirm what’s inside the tank cars traversing its 23 miles of track in Delaware. Across its network, CSX handles about 14 trains with oil per week, according to the company. Executives expect the crude load to increase by 50 percent in 2014.

Michael Murray, a rail fan who’s followed the industry for 25 years, said CSX moves the crude east via Albany, N.Y., then south through New Jersey to Philadelphia-area refineries. Rather than running empty cars back the same way, CSX routes them through Delaware to Baltimore and back west, forming a loop, Murray said.

“The CSX line is a quarter of a mile from where I live in Elkton, and they’re running at least one empty [unit train] a day,” he said.

CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said the railroad has not provided crude-oil-specific training to Delaware first-responders but is willing to do so.

“CSX has a long history of working with emergency responders across its system and makes information about the materials handled available to those agencies on request,” Sullivan said.

Contact Melissa Nann Burke at (302) 324-2329, or on Twitter @nannburke, or Jeff Montgomery at (302) 678-4277, or on Twitter @JMontgomery_TNJ.

Rail Safety Community Meeting

WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Delaware City Fire Hall, 815 Fifth St. in Delaware City

WHO: Lawmakers, first-responders, officials from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the state Emergency Response Commission, DelDOT, DNREC, Norfolk Southern Corp. and PBF Refinery.

State House Energy Committee hearing on rail safety

WHEN: 4 to 6 p.m. March 26

WHERE: Legislative Hall, Dover

View the original article.

Hearing airs Delco fears on crude oil accidents

By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: March 07, 2014

EDDYSTONE A waterfront rail terminal in Eddystone, a small Delaware County borough, will soon become a major center for transporting crude oil to area refineries.

While officials applaud the project as a boost to the local economy, they also point to the threat of a disaster in the state’s growing oil-by-rail industry.

“Make no mistake,” said former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon. “An incident involving rail transport of oil will occur in the commonwealth, and lives, including first responders’ lives, and property will be put at risk. These incidents have occurred in the past, and they will occur in the future.”

Weldon, also a former mayor and fire chief in Marcus Hook who has responded to emergencies at refineries in his borough, spoke to state lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday.

The oil-by-rail project in Eddystone, set to open as early as this month, will bring 80,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota. Once in Eddystone, the oil will be transferred to barges on the Delaware for distribution to refineries. As the facility grows, it could accept as many as 160,000 barrels per day, Jack Galloway of Eddystone Rail Co. told members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

State representatives called the hearing in Eddystone with local officials, railroad companies, and emergency responders after a train carrying crude oil was involved in a fiery crash in North Dakota in December. In January, train cars with crude oil derailed on a bridge over the Schuylkill. Another train derailment last month, in Western Pennsylvania, spilled more than 4,000 gallons of crude oil.

Rep. Joe Hackett (R., Delaware) said the meeting was not called “to point fingers” at the crude oil industry, but to learn how the state could prepare for emergencies.

In the event of a derailment, train crews call a company dispatcher, who then contacts the railroad’s emergency response center. Local responders are called to the scene to assist the railroad’s teams.

Volunteer firefighters are not equipped to handle major disasters, said Bob Andrews, whose company plans to build a “mega-fire station” to respond to crude oil emergencies in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Andrews, president and CEO of the Bob Andrews Group, based in San Antonio, Texas, said he was considering Delaware County and other sites for the facility. He would seek contracts with companies as well as state and local governments, and employ full-time firefighters, he said.

Andrews said disasters are not frequent in the crude oil industry, but a proper emergency response requires specialized training and equipment.

Railroad executives assured lawmakers they were already working to address safety concerns and train local firefighters.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and major freight railroads signed an agreement last month to increase safety in crude oil transport.



Ex-Rep. Weldon warns of oil-transport dangers

By Kathleen Carey, Delaware County Daily Times

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EDDYSTONE — Former congressman Curt Weldon on Wednesday warned that Pennsylvania should be as prepared as possible for a disaster as Bakken crude oil begins to be transported into the state in larger volumes.

He said it’s not a question of if there will be a disaster, but when.

Industry experts, on the other hand, pointed to the statistical evidence that moving materials by rail is relatively safe, although they did acknowledge some high-profile incidents and offered changes that have been made in response to those events.

These testimonies were part of the “Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities Related to the Transportation of Crude Oil across the Commonwealth” hearing in front of the Pennsylvania Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee at the Eddystone Fire Co.

Part of the reason for the hearing was the construction of a Bakken crude oil unloading facility less than a mile away. Through a joint partnership between Enbridge Inc. and Canopy Prospecting Inc., the Eddystone Rail Project will transport 80,000 barrels per day initially, and potentially up to 160,000 barrels, of light sweet crude from North Dakota to be unloaded at an Exelon Generation facility, then pumped out to barges on the Delaware River prior to delivery.

Bakken crude was being transported in Lac-Megantic, Canada, in July when the train derailed and exploded, causing 47 deaths. In January, a CSX train carrying crude derailed as a result of improper track maintenance, according to state officials, although no one was injured and no leakages were reported.

“This crude is not the crude of old,” Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Chief Deputy Director Robert Full said. “This crude has a lower flash and ignition point.”

Weldon was mayor of Marcus Hook during the 1975 Corinthos disaster in which 29 people died after the Corinthos and Edgar M. Queeny ships collided and burned for three days.

“The product that exploded and burned out of control was light crude,” he said. “The same product that is going to be shipped in all those rail cars. Prior to the Corinthos disaster, no one believed that an incident of this magnitude could ever occur in the United States inland waters, let alone in a community with a population of less than 5,000 people.”

He urged the committee to exercise its oversight capabilities to make certain detailed emergency response plans are in place, especially considering cutbacks that have been made over time.

“Every refinery had its own fire department,” Weldon said. “That’s not the case today. I urge you to ask the refineries and the companies what their staffing levels were 20 years ago and what are they today as they increase their operations.”

Weldon said the state should request a grant to create a comprehensive emergency response template that could set a national emergency response standard.

He pointed to the San Antonio-based Bob Andrews Group, which wants to build a specialized, regional fire station in Delaware County to respond to emergency industrial incidents.

“Make no mistake,” Weldon said, “an incident involving rail transport of oil will occur in the commonwealth and lives, including first-responder lives, and property will be put at risk. These incidents have occurred in the past and they will occur in the future.”

David Julian, vice president of safety and environmental for Norfolk Southern, one of the companies planning to transport the Bakken crude into Eddystone, spoke to the historical safety of these operations.

“Between 2000 and 2013, the U.S. rail industry originated 825,000 carloads of crude oil,” he said. “(And) 99.993 percent of those carloads arrived at their destination without a release caused by an accident.”

Julian said last year alone his company handled 500,000 loaded hazmat shipments, 99.999 percent of which arrived without a release due to an accident.

He and Howard R. “Skip” Elliott, vice president of public safety, health and environment for CSX Transportation, spoke of the voluntary practices put into place last month as part of an agreement reached by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the major American freight railroads.

They included speed restrictions, train inspection requirements and train handling provisions.

In addition, the Association of American Railroads is creating a $5 million fund to train local emergency responders in how to deal with crude.

Another recent standard includes the U.S. Department of Transportation emergency order issue for shippers to test product from the Bakken region and to have it identified when it is being transported by rail.

In the meantime, Weldon urged for caution.

“Throughout the years, we were always told that such incidents could never occur, that industry had all of the answers and not to worry,” he said. “I applaud industry, but I encourage you to exert your oversight responsibility as you have in the past.”


© 2014 The Delaware County Daily Times (

Crude oil hearing to be held in Eddystone Wednesday

By Kathleen Carey, Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: |

EDDYSTONE — With the Eddystone Rail Co. is weeks away from hauling thousands of gallons of crude oil into town, concerns about safety will be the focus of a legislative hearing on Wednesday.

In January, six crude oil cars and one sand car of a 101-car freight train derailed on a CSX track as it was moving from Philadelphia to Chicago. CSX Corp. officials said its investigation determined that a maintenance crew improperly followed procedures and didn’t anchor fasteners to crossties correctly.

By the end of the month, about 120 rail cars carrying up to 30,000 gallons of liquid each will be unloading its materials into tanks in Eddystone before being pumped out to tankers that will deliver it to refiners and other companies along the river. The facility is a joint project between Enbridge Inc. and Canopy Prospecting Inc. in which a long-term lease has been obtained from Exelon Generation, the property owner.

As company officials have outlined safety procedures they plan to implement, including having transloaders trained in basic responding techniques and working with local fire companies, the Pennsylvania Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee is hosting a hearing called “Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the ramifications for the railway transportation of crude oil across the Commonwealth.”

Part of the concern is the potential for harm, especially in light of a July 2013 incident in Quebec in which 47 people were killed and 30 buildings burned after cars carrying Bakken crude and other fuels derailed.

Among those testifying Wednesday include Bob Andrews and Samuel O. Goldwater of the San Antonio, Texas-based Bob Andrews Group.

Last week, the group announced that it is focusing its efforts on Delaware County for a regional fire station and headquarters to serve the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, as well as the Central Atlantic region, after a 10-month search.

Company officials plan to provide specialized, industrial firefighting services for area companies that contract with them.

Andrews explained that such a public-private venture can be advantageous in critical chemical incidents as they take specific skills and equipment. “It’s an even that’s very serious, but they don’t happen that every often,” he said.

In addition, there are certain characteristics unique to these industrial fires that are unlike house or car fires. One difference is getting to it.

“Because rails go everywhere, this is a case if this happens on the outskirts of town and you don’t have roads, you have a problem with access,” Andrews said. “Where the oil fire occurs brings its own set of problems.”

One thing his company provides is fire trucks that can be placed directly on the rails to get quickly to the incident scene.

“Sometimes, that’s the only way you’ll get there,” Andrews said.

Goldwater said the size and the scope of the events are also what sets these events apart.

A rail car, he explained, contains 30,000 gallons of liquid, compared to tractor trailers that carry 3,000 gallons. When multiplied by a 100-car train, the enormity of the situation grows exponentially.

“The scope gets kind of wacko really fast,” he said.

However, neither Andrews nor Goldwater wanted to exaggerate the situation.

“Statistically, moving this stuff is pretty safe,” Andrews said. “Just like statistically, getting on an airline is safe but they still have firefighters at the airport.”

Andrews said what makes his company’s involvement successful is the focus on front-end evaluation in which his company’s staff gains as much information ahead of time, such as knowledge of the property itself and what the risk is, so they prepare various response scenarios in advance.

Besides establishing a regional mega-station, the group plans to build several substations, all of which would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with professionals trained specifically to handle these incidents.

“There is a lot of energy and a lot of concern about this crude oil rail right now,” Andrews said. “I think we offer a very fast solution for that right now.”

The hearing will be held 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Eddystone Fire Co., 1112 E. Seventh St. in Eddystone.

Kathleen Carey is the lead business writer for the Daily Times. Reach the author at .

Bob Andrews Group to Establish Specialist Emergency Response Headquarters in the Tri-State Area

Ten month long site selection process now focusing on Delaware County, PA

San Antonio, TX – February 24, 2014   

The Bob Andrews Group, LLC (BAG) today formally announced that after an extensive ten-month site selection process, it is now focusing on Delaware County, Pennsylvania for the location of its new regional fire station and headquarters.  The new facility will support BAG’s wholly-owned emergency response subsidiary, BAG Emergency Response Services, LLC (BAG-ERS).

Operating from a strategically located facility, BAG-ERS will focus on protecting the high-hazard, critical infrastructure, and crude oil by rail (CBR) industries in the Delaware Valley.

BAG-ERS_top_logo2The company will provide industrial firefighting specialists, as well as specially-designed firefighting equipment. These resources will be offered to oil refining, chemical, railroad, marine, utility and other heavy-industrial customers that require a specialized and highly-technical response to emergencies.

While BAG-ERS will initially focus on establishing a significant presence in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the company will also serve the Central Atlantic region of the United States and will then expand to offer its critical services both nationally and internationally.

“The company has identified several potential sites in Delaware County, Pennsylvania that are proximate to its targeted customer base, as well as close to major highways and bridges to facilitate rapid emergency response”, reported Sam Goldwater, Bob Andrews Group Senior Vice President. “Since November, we have been focusing on several suitable sites located in Delaware County, and have also been conducting our due-diligence with property owners, local government officials, and state economic development entities. Assuming the successful conclusion of these efforts, the Bob Andrews Group should be able to announce its site selection decision in the near future”, Goldwater said.

“With the pending selection and announcement of our new Regional Fire Station and Headquarters, BAG-ERS is now prepared to begin working with its prospective clients, employees, and government partners.  Our goal is to provide a significant emergency response capability in the region as soon as possible”, said Robert C. Andrews, Jr., P.E., Bob Andrews Group President & CEO.


Chief Bob Andrews
President & CEO
Bob Andrews Group, LLC

According to Andrews, the company envisions a “mega-fire station” to be situated within the three-state region, supported by several smaller “sub-stations” that will provide for initial rapid response within their local territory.  The company also sees hiring a mix of full-time and part-time firefighters and other emergency response professionals, drawing on the significant numbers of career, volunteer, industrial, and military emergency responders readily available in the region. “We certainly aim to be a preferred employer in the tri-state area, providing competitive compensation, comprehensive benefits, and significant educational opportunities, including tuition reimbursement, for our employees”, Andrews said.

Amongst the services offered by BAG-ERS will be specialized industrial firefighting, hazardous materials and oil spill response, specialized emergency medical response, marine firefighting, and technical rescue services including response to trench, high-angle, and confined-space emergencies.

The company will also be bringing its specialized expertise in emergency preparedness and response to the area’s crude oil by rail industry (CBR).


Samuel O. Goldwater
Senior Vice President
Bob Andrews Group, LLC

According to the company, Andrews tapped BAG Senior Vice President, Samuel O. Goldwater, early in 2013 to coordinate the preliminary phase of research and exploratory talks. Internally, the Bob Andrews Group had been referring to this new initiative as “The Philadelphia Project”. Mr. Goldwater will continue to lead the project locally, and will serve as BAG’s regional liaison. He may be reached through BAG San Antonio Headquarters at (210) 547-2400 until a local construction office is established, or by email at

Additional information about the Bob Andrews Group can be found on their website at Additional information about BAG Emergency Response Services can be found on their website at

Bob Andrews Group to Establish Specialist Emergency Response Headquarters in the Tri-State Area (pdf version)

Despite recent crashes, rail still safest way to haul oil, S.A. expert says

by Gary Cooper / KENS 5

News report by KENS-5 San Antonio, TX

SAN ANTONIO – A train carrying crude oil derailed on a Philadelphia bridge on Monday is the latest in a series of train accidents involving hauling crude. A San Antonio-based expert who provides emergency response services to the oil industry is offering his expertise preventing similar derailments in the Eagle Ford Shale. Bob Andrews, President and CEO of the Bob Andrews Group, provides emergency response services and safety consulting for oil companies, including those in the Bakken Shale in north Dakota which produces 750,000 barrels of oil a day. The Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas is projected to produce 2 million barrels of oil a day by the year 2020. He said despite the recent accidents, rail is still the safest way to haul oil. “Just as flying on an airliner is very safe, from time to time things can occur, and we know that so it’s the industry’s job to prepare for an accident should it occur,”  Andrews said. At the end of 2014, a train carrying oil from the Bakken Shale derailed in rural north Dakota and caught fire. It took several days for the fire to be put out.  Andrews said keeping oil better contained is possible, “however the problem is that right now there is no capacity to build these new cars, and with regard to training and rolling out new emergency response products like we have, it’s going to take some time for the industry to catch up,” Andrews believes the greater risk of dangerous oil spills is in the north and northeast United States. He said the oil industry infrastructure is safer in south Texas and the fire response is better equipped to handle an incident.