Tag Archives: Kanawha River

CSX Provides Update on W.Va. Oil Train Derailment Cleanup

Repost from ABC News

CSX Provides Update on W.Va. Oil Train Derailment Cleanup

By JOHN RABY Associated Press, Jul 21, 2015, 7:51 PM ET

GLEN FERRIS, W.Va. – CSX is continuing to closely monitor the environmental impact of a fiery oil-train derailment in southern West Virginia, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.The company held a public informational meeting that drew a sparse turnout Tuesday evening at the Glen Ferris Inn.

On Feb. 16, 27 cars of a CSX train’s 109 cars derailed during a snowstorm in Mount Carbon. Twenty of the cars leaked oil, some of which burned or was released into the ground.

Under a March consent order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the railroad agreed to a long-term plan for cleaning up and restoring the area around the derailment.

“It’s important for the community to know that we said we would be here,” CSX spokeswoman Melanie Cost said. “This is part of that process. We want to keep the open dialogue for them.”

Donna Shabdue lives near the derailment site and was forced to evacuate her home for more than a day. She showed up to the meeting to voice her concerns about local emergency response and pleaded for quickly informing the public about future incidents.

“They need to have a plan,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do. There needs to be a siren somewhere go off to evacuate. We didn’t know what to do. I just want out of there safely.”

The train was carrying 3 million gallons of Bakken crude and headed to Yorktown, Virginia. In recent years, trains hauling crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana have been involved in fiery derailments in six states.

The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating the West Virginia accident, which shot fireballs into the sky, burned down a nearby house and caused fires on the ground that smoldered for days.

The cause of the derailment hasn’t been released. Speed had previously been ruled out as a factor. The FRA has said the train was going 33 mph at the time of the crash. The speed limit was 50 mph.

CSX said more than 181,000 gallons of crude oil was recovered after the accident. About 10,000 tons of soil has been removed and shipped for disposal. Additional soil removal is planned next to the Kanawha River and a tributary at the derailment site.

Air, water and soil sampling continues. The water monitoring is at five locations along the river, including a drinking water intake, because of the occasional presence of oil sheens. CSX said the local drinking water supply has been unaffected by the spill.

Oil-absorbing booms were attached to a metal wall more than 410 feet long in the river as an additional containment measure. The wall will eventually be taken down once the sheens are no longer detected, Cost said.

Cost declined to disclose how much the company has spent on the cleanup.

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    Benicia Herald: Rep. pens crude-by-rail safety bill

    Repost from The Benicia Herald

    Rep. pens crude-by-rail safety bill

    ■ Mike Thompson: Recent accidents show need for ‘robust’ action

    By Donna Beth Weilenman, April 15, 2015 
    MIKE THOMPSON. File photo
    MIKE THOMPSON. File photo

    U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, the Napa Democrat who represents Benicia in the House, has introduced the Crude-by-Rail Safety Act he co-authored to establish comprehensive safety security standards for transporting crude oil by train.

    The act, presented to the House on Wednesday, is a response to concerns that current safety standards don’t address hazards such transports pose, Thompson said.

    Joining him in co-authoring the proposed legislation were Reps. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, Ron Kind, D-Wis. and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

    The Crude-By-Rail Safety Act would put in place safety measures Thompson said would assure that communities through which oil is transported by train are secure, that rail cars are as strong as possible and that first responders are prepared to handle emergencies.

    While many opponents of crude by rail cite the July 6, 2013, Lac-Megantic rail disaster that killed 47 in the town in Quebec, Canada, Thompson said several more accidents involving trains hauling crude already have taken place this year in Canada and the United States.

    A CSX train in West Virginia on its way to Yorktown, Va., was pulling CPC 1232 tanker cars, designed to be less vulnerable and stronger than the earlier-model D-111s [sic] that exploded in the Lac-Megantic crash. But the oil train derailed Feb. 16 near Mount Carbon, W.Va., and fire and leaking North Dakota oil could be seen a day later. Two towns had to be evacuated, one house was destroyed, at least one derailed car entered the Kanawha River and a nearby water treatment plant was closed.

    A March 10 derailment three miles outside of Galena, Ill., involved 21 cars of a 105-car Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train hauling Bakken crude. Three days later, a 94-car Canadian National Railway crude oil train derailed three miles away from Gogama, Northern Ontario, and destroyed a bridge. That derailment was just 23 miles from the site of a Feb. 14 derailment involving a 100-car Canadian National Railways train traveling from Alberta.

    Those accidents, Thompson said, “underscored the urgency of action to curb the risks of transporting volatile crude oil. The legislation introduced today will increase safety standards and accountability.”

    He said the act would establish a maximum volatility standard for crude oil, propane, butane, methane and ethane that is transported by rail. It would forbid using DOT-111 tank cars and would remove 37,700 of those cars from the rail network.

    He said the legislation would establish the strongest tank car standards to date.

    Railroads would be required to disclose train movements through communities and to establish confidential close-call reporting systems. Another requirement would be the creation of emergency response plans, he said.

    The legislation calls for comprehensive oil spill response planning and studies and would increase fines for violating volatility standards and hazardous materials transport standards.

    This is not the first time Thompson has addressed rail safety.

    In December 2014, he wrote legislation improving rail and refinery security and requiring an intelligence assessment of the security of domestic oil refineries and the railroads that serve them.

    A quarter-century earlier, when he was a state senator, Thompson was alarmed by the July 14, 1991 Southern Pacific derailment and resulting toxic spill at Dunsmuir, a small resort town on the Upper Sacramento River.

    The derailment sent 19,000 gallons of soil fumigant into the river, killing more than a million fish, millions of other types of animals and hundreds of thousands of trees.

    The fumigant sent a 41-mile plume along the river to Shasta Lake, an incident that still ranks as one of California’s largest hazardous chemical spills, from which some species have never recovered.

    The incident occurred in what was Thompson’s state senatorial district. In response he drafted a bill that became Chapter 766 of the California State Statutes of 1991.

    His bill founded the Railroad Accident Prevention and Immediate Deployment (RAPID) Force, which cooperates with other agencies to respond to large-scale releases of toxic materials spilled during surface transportation accidents; ordered the California Environmental Protection Agency to develop a statewide program to address such emergencies; and for a time raised money to supply emergency responders with equipment they would need for spill cleanups.

    “Public safety is priority number one when it comes to transporting highly volatile crude oil,” Thompson said Wednesday.

    “Rail cars transporting crude run through the heart of our communities, and as recent accidents have demonstrated, robust, comprehensive action is needed.”

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      1.4M at risk in Ohio for crude-oil derailment

      Repost from Vindi.com, Youngstown OH
      [Editor:  Quoting Ed Greenberg, spokesperson for the Association of American Railroads: “We believe that every tank car moving crude oil today should be phased out or built to a higher standard.”   – RS]

      1.4M at risk in Ohio for crude-oil derailment, study finds

      March 30, 2015 @ 12:05 a.m.

      Almost 1.4 million Ohioans live within a half-mile of railroad lines where some of the most-volatile crude oil in North America rolls by each week, a Columbus Dispatch analysis has found.

      Those people, about 12 percent of the state’s population, are at risk of being forced from their homes should a train hauling crude oil from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota run off the tracks.

      Most trains that transport crude oil stay on their tracks, but derailments can be catastrophic.

      A Bakken train that derailed in 2013 burst into flames, killing 47 people and destroying most of downtown Lac- Megantic, Quebec. Trains have wrecked in Ontario, as well as in Alabama, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, sending trains up in flames, prompting mass evacuations and, in some cases, obliterating homes.

      A Bakken train derailed in West Virginia last month, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate their homes and spilling oil into the Kanawha River.

      Teresa Mills, program director of the Buckeye Forest Council, said that both rail officials and the oil and gas industry should do more to keep people safe.

      “Before they leave the fields, before they pump that oil into a train, they should be required to make that oil less explosive,” Mills said. “And if they can’t transport it without its being so explosive — if the Bakken is so volatile that it can’t be transported without being explosive — then they should leave it in the ground.”

      The Bakken shale field stretches over northwestern North Dakota and into Montana and produces some of the most-desirable crude oil in the United States. It’s often less expensive than imported crude. It also requires less refining than other shale oils to be turned into diesel fuel or gasoline.

      But the same things that make Bakken crude such a good fuel source also make it highly flammable.

      Ohio, with its more than 5,300 miles of tracks, is a key junction between the Bakken region and East Coast oil refineries.

      Millions of gallons of Bakken crude come through Ohio each week on trains, according to the reports that railroad companies submit to the state. Those reports show that from 45 million to 137 million gallons of Bakken are moving on Ohio’s railroad tracks every week.

      That volume, combined with high-profile derailments, has prompted federal regulators, lawmakers, industrial lobbying groups and environmental nonprofit organizations to pay closer attention to how oil moves on rail lines throughout the country.

      “If it could happen in these other places. It could surely happen right here in Ohio,” said Melanie Houston, director of water policy and environmental health for the Ohio Environmental Council, an environmental advocacy group. “It could happen in a rural area, but it could also happen in a highly populated metropolitan area like Columbus.”

      The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that trains carrying crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year for the next 20 years. Property damage could top $4 billion, the DOT analysis, completed last summer, found.

      The department is preparing new rules on how crude oil is transported on tracks throughout the country. Last year, railroad companies voluntarily agreed to limit oil-train speeds to 40 mph in cities.

      Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the Association of American Railroads, a trade group that represents railroad companies, said that organization has lobbied for tougher restrictions on the tanker cars that carry crude oil.

      “We believe that every tank car moving crude oil today should be phased out or built to a higher standard,” Greenberg said.

      But keeping people along crude-oil shipping lines safe will take a comprehensive approach, said Tom Simpson, president of the Railway Supply Institute, which represents tank-car owners and manufacturers.

      “The tank car is not the silver bullet. You cannot really design a tank car to withstand the derailment forces in a derailment, and so you can’t get the risk down to zero,” Simpson said. “You’ve got to look at the other factors, and that includes derailment prevention and ensuring [that] the materials have the proper packaging, and also educating the emergency-response personnel in the cities and villages along the right of way.”

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        UPDATE: Latest on West Virginia derailment, explosion

        Two recent stories in the media:

        1.  WEST VIRGINIA METRO NEWS: No change for CSX, Bakkan oil will continue to roll through area where derailment took place
        By Chris Lawrence, February 27, 2015 at 2:47PM

        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]


        2.  PBS NEWSHOUR: Fiery train wrecks put pressure on safety standards for oil transport
        February 27, 2015 – 8:43am
        A combination photo shows a sequence of an explosion erupting from a CSX Corp train derailment in Mount Carbon, West Virginia pictured across the Kanawha River in Boomer, West Virginia February 16, 2015. Photo by Steve Keenan/Reuters

        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]


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