James River threatened; some will need alternate water sources

Repost from CBS6 WTVR Richmond Central Virginia

City, Chesterfield consider new water sources after crude oil spill from train derailment

by Scott Wise and Alix Bryan  |  April 30, 2014
Lynchburg fire (PHOTO: WDBJ7.com)Lynchburg fire (PHOTO: WDBJ7.com)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WTVR) – The Lynchburg Department of Emergency Services has responded to reports of a train derailment and fire in area of Depot Grille.

The trains were carrying crude oil, according to WDBJ. The CSX train was carrying between 12 and 14 CSX tanker cars when it derailed around 1:45 p.m., according to WDBJ, who said on-air that around three or four trains breached.

There is no report yet why the trains derailed.

CSX officials worked to remove the portion of the train that is blocking workers from leaving Griffin Pipe Foundry located in the lower basin. Police urged people to avoid the downtown area. Some residents are being evacuated to the E.C. Glass High School.

The Depot Grille is located at 10 Ninth Street in Lynchburg. The location of the train derailment runs along the James River. There is no word yet exactly how much spilled into the James, or how long that could take to reach Richmond.

According to a Lynchburg city official who has been at the command post, crude oil is slowly leaking into the James River, affiliate WDBJ reported. Intake stations downstream have been notified. A boom in the river is trying to catch the crude oil.

Richmond will consider using an alternate water source due to the train derailment.The Department of Utilities will hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the city may tap the old Kanawha Canal system at Tuckahoe Creek.

Henrico is not switching from the James River, said William Mawyer, Assistant Director for Henrico Public Utilities. He said that intakes are well below the surface of where crude oil resides. He said that they would inform residents of any changes to the water supply.

Chesterfield gets water from the city, Swift Creek Reservoir and Lake Chesdin. They are isolating and shutting down the lines that come from Richmond and will service the entire county using water from the other two sources. Once the city switches and determines that the water from the alternative source is safe they will open the lines from the city, said Chesterfield’s Public Utilities department, Roy Covington.

He also said that their main priority was to provide safe drinking water for the citizens of Chesterfield County.

No injuries have been reported.

Governor Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement: “This afternoon my Public Safety team informed me of the train derailment and fire in Lynchburg. Immediately after those reports were received the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia State Police, and the Virginia Department of Fire Programs were instructed to coordinate with local responders and mobilize the resources necessary to respond to this incident.

“Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Adam Thiel has been dispatched to the scene and will provide my team and me with constant updates as this situation unfolds. I have also spoken with Lynchburg Mayor Michael Gillette and offered him any and all resources he needs to respond to this incident and keep Virginians safe.”

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