February 17, 2015
Yesterday afternoon another freight train carrying over 100 cars of Bakken crude oil on its way to Yorktown, VA derailed in Fayette County, West Virginia, resulting in 25 derailed tank cars – 14 of these cars exploded and one spilled into the Kanawha River. The accident prompted an evacuation of a mile and a half radius around the derailment, and two water treatment plants were immediately closed to assess impacts to drinking water. The incident is similar to the Bakken crude oil train explosion and oil spill that occurred on the James River in Lynchburg on April 30, 2014, when 17 cars derailed and one ruptured spilling its contents into the river.
“This dangerous event could have happened on the James River again,” said Pat Calvert, Upper James Riverkeeper. “This is the same rail line that runs along hundreds of miles of the James River and through many population centers in Virginia. This is an alarming reminder that our river and communities continue to be at risk every day without stronger safety requirements for Bakken crude oil transport.”
Both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Transportation are considering new safety measures to address the risks posed to communities and the environment from the 4,000% increase in crude oil transport by railroads over the last five years. According to the rail carrier, CSX, both incidents involved the newer CPC 1232 train cars and not the older DOT 111 model that has been much of the focus of safety concerns.
“The James River Association believes that this incident further highlights the need for swift action by Governor McAuliffe’s Rail Safety Taskforce to issue recommendations improving safety on Virginia’s crude by rail lines,” said Adrienne Kotula, Policy Specialist for the James River Association. “Increased inspections of the lines carrying this highly volatile material are vital to the safety of Virginians and the James River – a key drinking water supply for millions.”
“We also urge the McAuliffe administration and Virginia’s congressional representatives to call on the White House to quickly complete their review of the new federal rail safety regulations so they may be rapidly implemented, Kotula continued. “We believe that immediate implementation of the strictest tank car standards proposed (Tank Car Option 1 in the proposed regulations) is the most prudent option given this recent incident and the similar derailment that occurred in Lynchburg, Virginia.”
Adrienne Kotula, Policy Specialist
James River Association
804-788-8811, ext. 206