MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. — There will be another CSX train carrying Bakkan oil going through eastern Kanawha and Fayette counties soon now that the track has been repaired following the Feb. 19 derailment of an oil train near Mount Carbon.
“It’s part of the freight that goes over that line,” CSX Spokesman Gary Sease told MetroNews Friday. “Those shipments, along with all the other freight we haul, have resumed.”
The rebuilt line, just a few miles from Montgomery, reopened Thursday afternoon following a week long cleanup. [CONTINUED]
WASHINGTON — Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.
On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger tank cars and make other safety improvements.
Nine days later a 100-car train hauling crude oil and petroleum distillates derailed and caught fire in a remote part of Ontario, Canada. Less than 48 hours later, a 109-car oil train derailed and caught fire in West Virginia, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a house to its foundation. As the fire spread across 19 of the cars, a nearby resident said the explosions sounded like an “atomic bomb.” Both fires burned for nearly a week. [CONTINUED]
Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle [Editor: Significant quote: “Valero Energy Co. has agreed to haul Bakken crude to its Benicia bayside refinery in the newer CPC-1232 cars as part of its city permit application to revamp its facilities to receive crude by rail rather than via oceangoing tanker. But that promise now appears inadequate to protect the safety of those in Benicia as well as in other communities — Roseville, Sacramento, Davis — along the rail line.” (emphasis added) – RS]
Get rid of exploding tank cars
EDITORIAL On Crude by Rail, Monday, February 23, 2015
When a train carrying crude oil derailed last week in West Virginia, sending up a fireball that burned for five days, communities on rail lines in California noted that the accident involved the newer — and it was hoped safer — CPC-1232 model tank cars. Some 3 million gallons of Bakken crude spilled from 26 cracked cars into a Kanawha River tributary, endangering water supplies and forcing the evacuation of two towns. The smoldering crude burned a home, but thankfully no one was killed.
Two days before the West Virginia train wreck, a train pulling CPC-1232 tank cars derailed and caught fire in Ontario, Canada. There was a similar accident last year in Lynchburg, Va.
Clearly, it will take tank car safety upgrades more extensive than those adopted voluntarily by the rail industry four years ago to assure the public safety and protect the environment of communities crossed by rail lines. Yet authorities have dithered.
Bakken crude, a light crude with a low sulfur content, is highly flammable, by the Department of Transportation’s own account. The shippers are working on new procedures to strip out highly volatile elements before the crude is loaded, but they are not uniformly required.
The Obama administration is considering more extensive safety upgrades such as rollover protection, sturdier hulls, shields to prevent tank rupture or collapse, and electronic brakes that would stop the cars before they slam into each other. But it is taking too long to adopt new federal rules. The oil and rail industries support some upgrades, but want more time to accomplish them. This is unacceptable.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on the rules since 2012 but does not expect adoption until mid-May. Once the new rules are accepted, the industry would have three to four years to phase out the unsafe DOT-111 model tank cars, which the National Transportation Safety Board has warned are not suitable to transport flammable liquids. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of the faulty DOT-111 tank cars remain on the rails. Canadian rail authorities accelerated their phaseout of the cars after a fire set off by a derailed oil train killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July 2013.
Safety upgrades are lagging the rapid increase in oil moving by rail: Shipments have increased from 9,500 car loads in 2008 to 500,000 car loads in 2014, driven by the boom in the Bakken Oil Shale formation in North Dakota, where there are few oil pipelines and 70 percent of the petroleum is shipped by train.
Valero Energy Co. has agreed to haul Bakken crude to its Benicia bayside refinery in the newer CPC-1232 cars as part of its city permit application to revamp its facilities to receive crude by rail rather than via oceangoing tanker. But that promise now appears inadequate to protect the safety of those in Benicia as well as in other communities — Roseville, Sacramento, Davis — along the rail line.
The government and the oil and rail industries will need to move more quickly to adopt new safety rules before communities along the rail lines can welcome oil trains rolling into town.
Derailed CSX train in West Virginia hauled newer-model tank cars
By Jonathan Leff, Feb 17, 2015 5:18pm EST
(Reuters) – An oil train was still on fire and leaking in West Virginia on Tuesday, a day after it derailed and erupted in flames, according to CSX Corp, which said the train was hauling newer model tank cars, not the older versions widely criticized as prone to puncture.
The train, which was carrying North Dakota crude to an oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed in a small town 33 miles southeast of Charleston, causing 20 tank cars to catch fire. Several were still leaking oil on Tuesday. All the oil tank cars on the 109-car train were CPC 1232 models, CSX said late Monday.
The CPC 1232 is the newer, supposedly tougher version of the DOT-111 car manufactured before 2011, which was faulted by regulators and operators for a number of years. U.S. and Canadian authorities, under pressure to address a spate of fiery accidents, are seeking to phase out the older models. The U.S. Transportation Department has recommended that even these later models be updated with improved braking systems and thicker hulls.
The fires, which destroyed one house and resulted in the evacuation of two nearby towns, were left to burn out on Tuesday, CSX said in a statement. No serious injuries were reported.
CSX said the cleanup of oil will begin when it can safely reach the site. In the meantime, delays are expected on the line.
None of the 25 tank cars that derailed fell into the nearby Kanawha River, CSX said. On Monday, officials said at least one car had entered the river.
Water tests along the Kanawha River have so far come up negative for traces of oil, according to a spokeswoman at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. A nearby water treatment plant has been closed, she said.
This accident followed the Feb. 14 derailment in Ontario of a Canadian National Railways train from Alberta. It was also the second derailment in a year along this CSX line. A similar incident in Virginia involved a train also headed to Plains All American Pipelines LP’s oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia.
A boom in oil rail shipments rail across North America has heightened focus on safety. In July 2013, 47 people were killed in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic after a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded.
Thick, black smoke rose for a second day Tuesday from a train hauling North Dakota crude oil that derailed Monday along a snowy West Virginia river.
The derailment ignited several tank cars, burning down a house and prompting water-treatment plants to shut down, authorities said.
About, 2,400 residents around Adena Village, near Mount Carbon, were evacuated as a precaution, Fayette County deputies told WCHS-TV. Emergency shelters were set up at a local school and recreation center.
One person was treated for possible breathing problems, but no other injuries were reported. Officials said they would let the fires burn themselves out, WCHS-TV reported.
At least one tanker from the 109-car CSX train tumbled into the Kanawha River south of Charleston and was leaking Bakken shale oil, which was headed to a refinery in Yorktown, Va., Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office told the Charleston Gazette. WSAZ-TV, citing emergency dispatchers, said several of the 33,000- gallon cars were in the river, and some were leaking.
Two water-treatment plants downstream closed intakes and halted operations as a precaution, and residents were urged to conserve water. One of the plants resumed normal operations Tuesday.
Tomblin declared a state of emergency in Kanawha and Fayette counties.
Residents said they heard several explosions and saw flames nearly 300 feet tall. CSX said “at least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire.”
One evacuation shelter was set up. CSX said it was “working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions.”
Todd Wagner, his wife and their 10-month-old daughter fled their home in Boomer Bottom.
“We’ve been in a rush,” he told the Gazette. “We had to grab a few things quickly.”
He said they “heard a big bang,” noting that they sometimes hear similar noises from a nearby factory.
In April 2014, another Virginia-bound train carrying North Dakota shale oil derailed in Lynchburg, Va.