Lynchburg emergency calls to 911

Repost from  ABC13, WSET TV Lynchburg, Danville, Roanoke

911 Train Derailment Tapes Released

Posted: May 05, 2014 6:43 PM PDT By James Gherardi – ABC13

Lynchburg, VA – The 911 recordings from Wednesday’s train derailment in downtown Lynchburg were released Monday, and the terror in the voice of some of the callers, is obvious.

You can hear men and women frantically scrambling to get help to the downtown disaster.

“Lynchburg 911, what’s the address of the emergency?” asked the dispatcher.

“We’re on Jefferson Street right now next to the tracks; we see the derailing of a train. There’s a large fire, a lot of smoke” said one caller.

Firsthand accounts of the downtown trail derailment came to life Monday.

“Do you know if anyone’s on the train?” asked the dispatcher.

“No it appears just to be a cargo train. I guess it’s carrying some type of flammable liquid” said the caller.

“It really looks like it’s going to explode and I’ve got to get out of here, I’ve got to move, I’m sorry” said another man.

This caller was frantic, losing his train of thought, while watching the flames fly.

“I came down by the City Hall and I saw huge black smoke. Oh my God, I can’t believe, I’m sorry” he said.

“Ok, we’ve got someone on the way” said the dispatcher.

“It’s like a huge ball of flames, it looks like it’s getting worse and it’s definitely a chemical spill probably” he replied.

Five days later, cars are clear from the river. Tracks have been relayed and trains have resumed travel.

But knowing now of the potential for what can happen here, there’s a new push.

“It caused us some significant worry and we really want to understand, what is the Federal DoT doing to make sure the regulations appropriately keep communities safe” said Senator Tim Kaine.

Virginia Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner urged the Department of Transportation Monday, to mandate upgrades in the transportation of crude oil by train, and to make sure cities are prepared to handle derailment disasters.

“You can’t prepare for a hazmat incident if you don’t know what exactly is being shipped. Your plan is only as good as the information you have about what’s coming through your community” he said.

Kaine said NTSB recommendations are one thing; whether they become safety standards is another. He said standards have got to be the case; Americans are transporting more oil by train now, than we were any year over the last decade.

    NRDC sues Koch brothers over handling of petcoke; Chicago adopts new regulations

    Repost from The Huffington Post

    Koch Brothers Face Lawsuit Over Chicago’s Toxic Black Dust

    The Huffington Post  | by  Joseph Erbentraut  |  05/02/2014

    Environmentalists are planning to take billionaires Charles and David Koch to court, alleging the brothers’ companies are responsible for polluting Chicago’s Southeast Side with the black, thick dust known as petroleum coke — or petcoke, a byproduct of the oil refining process.

    ThinkProgress reported this week that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) have given a 90-day notice of an intention to sue Koch-owned companies including KCBX Terminals over the pollution associated with their petcoke storage facilities located along the Calumet River in a low-income, partially industrial Chicago community.

    In a press release, the groups said the lawsuit stems from neighbors complaining that the dust spewing from the facilities’ large, uncovered petcoke piles has polluted the river, “invaded” their homes and blackened area skies.

    “People are complaining about finding dust from these sites inside their homes,” Peggy Salazar, SETF executive director, said in a statement. “Black dust is coating their houses and probably their lungs. This has to stop. And hopefully this suit will achieve that.”

    (Read NRDC’s full notice letter.)

    On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council approved regulations that ban new petcoke storage facilities from opening up in the city, but do not require the shutdown of the three sites currently in operation.

    The Chicago Tribune reports the storage sites will be newly required to report how much petcoke and coal they ship through the city on a quarterly basis. They will also need to enclose their piles within two years and cannot expand their operations.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office described the ordinance as the toughest petcoke regulations in the nation, but environmental groups pushing for an outright ban disagree.

    It is the city’s ultimate obligation to protect its residents,” Salazar said Wednesday, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. “We don’t believe they did that here.”

    Most of the petcoke in Chicago is shipped in from the nearby BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, which is tripling their output of the dangerous dust after expanding their facility. Petcoke can cause health problems like coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, in addition to aggravating existing respiratory conditions like asthma, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

    Facing similar concerns voiced by residents living near petcoke facilities there, Detroit moved to ban petcoke last year.

      The hypocrisy of our our “friendly” giants: Big Oil in our back yards

      Repost from The Martinez Gazette
      [Editor: The following letter to the editor of The Martinez Gazette comes from our sister city across the Carquinez Strait, but it describes life in every refinery town.  Like Shell Oil, Valero in Benicia does an excellent job of contributing to popular charitable causes here and promotes itself as highly concerned with public health and safety  all the while filling our California skies with pollutants and seeking permission to bring in toxic and dangerous tar-sands and Bakken crudes that lay waste to the earth and its inhabitants from the strip mines and fracking fields all the way to our back door.  – RS]

      ‘Shell Oil is the hypocrisy at Earth Day’

       May 4, 2014

      Dear editor:

      Martinez celebrated John Muir’s Birthday and Earth Day last weekend at the John Muir Historical Site. Attendees were offered environmental information from sustainable and recyclable, to energy and water saving to causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) and global warming with the usual sponsors of the IBEW, Republic Services, City of Martinez, and Shell Oil of Martinez.

      How does a fossil fuel industry corporation that produces 175 tons of hydrocarbons a day at it’s Martinez Refinery, owns 60 percent of Canadian Boreal Forest that is decimating the ecology to strip mine highly toxic tar sands crude oil to be shipped to its refineries, and has less than 2.5 percent of its overall expenditures in sustainable and renewable energy while totally divesting itself of solar energy and decreasing wind energy interests, get a place at John Muir’s Birthday/ Earth Day event? Certainly, John Muir would have left them off the list.

      Shell and Big Oil was the elephant at the party. The Earth Day hypocrisy is that refineries in the Bay Area are the single largest stationary source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Shell is responsible for 492 million pounds of VOCs per year. Contra Costa County is the third most toxic county in the state of California. Short term exposure to sulfur dioxide, a refining byproduct, can result in respiratory illness and cardiovascular issues as well as aggravation of asthma. Do you or someone you know have asthma or respiratory illnesses?

      There is no spare the air day for Shell or any refinery. When you can’t put a log on the fire, Shell emits over 700,000 tons of hydrocarbons per year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

      Shell as well as the four other refineries in the Bay Area, are now refining a dirtier crude oil high in sulfur and other metals which emits more hydrocarbons. The tar sand oil from Alberta Canada is heavy like tar and sinks when it hits water, making oil spill recovery impossible. Shell receives this type of crude by ship and a spill of this type while off loading would foul our drinking water in Martinez.

      Bakken crude oil, extracted from the Dakotas, is very explosive because of its low flash point and can explode before it is refined. This type of crude is being shipped by rail car through our downtown to the Bay Area refineries and has been in the news recently with train derailments and explosions in Casselton, North Dakota, Louisiana, Lac Megantic Canada and most recently in Lynchburg, Virginia.

      The fossil fuel industry is always trying to improve their image within their communities despite their records as gross polluters. Chevron takes a single page ad in the Times every week telling us what a partner they are in the community since sending 15,000 residents to neighboring hospitals after a 2012 fire at their Richmond Refinery. Shell distributed flyers at Earth Day proposing to modernize their Martinez facility by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons a year and reducing water usage by 15 percent. Why did it take them until the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the fossil fuel industry is the leading contributor of GHG  emissions and a drought in California to get them to start reducing the amount of toxins they emit and the amount of water they use?

      If the fossil fuel industry was truly committed to solving the energy issue as it relates to climate change and becoming a leader of green technology, they would not have eliminated wind and solar energy from their repertoire. The easy to extract oil has now been processed and these companies insist on extracting every drop of oil by drilling, hydro fracking, or strip mining to the point where the cost to extract crude oil is equal to the cost to burn it in an efficient engine.

      The hypocrisy lies in the fact that Shell Oil made almost $20 billion dollars last year and was awarded the Martinez Business of the Year Award all the while convincing the planners, leaders, and deciders that they are entitled to a seat at the Birthday Party because they put change in the pockets of the community.

      Our children and grandchildren are the apples of our eyes and the soft spot in our hearts. Shell Oil knows this and they focus their donations to Martinez Education Foundation, Martinez Unified School District, school scholarships, back packs so our kids can shelter in place, etc… for the children. THIS is the hypocrisy. They contaminate the ground, spew toxics that foul our air, our children’s air: because the money in the community’s pockets makes this poisoning acceptable.

      Shell Oil is the Earth Day Hypocrisy.

      – James Neu, Martinez

        For safe and healthy communities…