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.
Repost from McClatchy News [Editor: Another excellent contextual overview and detailed report by Curtis Tate. New in this report: CSX providing hotel rooms for evacuees; and discussion of WV refusal to provide hazmat notification to the public and estimate of 2 to 5 oil trains per week; and Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration is a West Virginia native. – RS]
2 West Virginia towns evacuated as another oil train derails, catches fire
By Curtis Tate, McClatchy Washington Bureau, February 16, 2015
WASHINGTON — A train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire Monday in West Virginia, less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Transportation sent a package of new rail safety regulations to the White House for review.
The CSX train was traveling on the same route as another crude oil train that derailed and caught fire 10 months ago in downtown Lynchburg, Va. It was the second derailment in as many days of a train loaded with crude oil. Early Sunday, a Canadian National train loaded with crude oil derailed in northern Ontario. At least seven cars burst into flames.
In Monday’s derailment, residents of two small towns east of Charleston were evacuated, and at least one tank car fell into the Kanawha River, according to the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. The river supplies drinking water for several local communities, and residents were urged Monday to conserve water.
The fire was expected to burn throughout the night.
A spokesman for the department said the 109-car train was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va., and that 12 to 15 cars had derailed. Trains from North Dakota’s Bakken region have been traveling to the Yorktown facility since December 2013, where the oil is transferred to barges for delivery to refineries on the East Coast.
Photos taken by local residents posted to Twitter showed a column of black smoke and fire that resembled the Lynchburg accident and others. Early Sunday, a Canadian National train carrying crude oil derailed in a remote part of northern Ontario.
Other fiery accidents have taken place in Casselton, N.D., Aliceville, Ala., and Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The latter derailment, in July 2013, killed 47 people and wiped out the town’s business district.
Those derailments prompted a series of changes by government and industry on both sides of the border, including operating practices, track inspections, train speeds and tank car design. The new rules currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget are scheduled for publication in mid-May.
The response to Monday’s derailment was complicated by a winter storm. The National Weather Service forecast a snowfall of 6 to 10 inches in the area.
Sarah Feinberg, the acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said investigators from her agency and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration were on their way to the scene, about six hours from Washington.
“Both agencies are monitoring the situation closely and will commence official inquiries into the cause of the derailment,” said Kevin Thompson, an FRA spokesman. “The agencies are prepared to take all necessary enforcement actions following the investigation.”
Feinberg, a native of West Virginia, was appointed last month by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to lead the agency. Feinberg and Robert Lauby, the FRA’s chief safety officer, will assess the derailment site Tuesday, the department said late Monday.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which last month added tank cars to its list of “most-wanted” safety improvements, was monitoring the incident, a spokesman said.
CSX, based in Jacksonville, Fla., was providing hotel rooms to the evacuees and working with local emergency personnel at the derailment scene, the railroad posted on Twitter.
Following the Lynchburg derailment last April, the Transportation Department began requiring railroads to notify state officials of shipments of 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude.
The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management declined McClatchy’s request to review the notifications in June, invoking an exemption under the state’s open records law because CSX had marked the documents “proprietary and trade secrets.”
However, the frequency of the shipments could be gleaned from surrounding states, notably Kentucky and Virginia, that did make the reports available to McClatchy and other news organizations.
The reports show that two to five Bakken trains a week traverse West Virginia.
West Virginia train derailment causes massive fire, evacuations
By Ryan Parker, Feb 16, 2015, 1:31pm
A train derailment Monday afternoon in West Virginia caused multiple explosions and a massive fire, officials said.
At least one home near the derailment in Fayette County caught fire and has been destroyed, according to Lawrence Messina, the state’s public safety spokesman.
The derailment happened about 1:20 p.m. Eastern time, Messina said. Three hours later, the fire was still burning, he said.
The CSX train was hauling crude oil, which is leaking from at least one of the cars, Messina said. There are no reported injuries, he said.
“Our concern is oil is leaking into the Kanawha River,” he said. Two water intakes downstream from the treatment plant have been shut down, he said.
CSX acknowledged that the company was aware of the situation. “We are working with first responders on the scene to ensure the safety of the community,” it said on Twitter.
Some of the tanker cars exploded, and oil on a portion of the river is on fire, according to the office of Kanawha County Emergency Management & Floodplain Management, which was assisting in the response.
Kanawha County is downriver from Fayette County.
Adena Village, near the derailment, has been evacuated, and authorities were beginning to evacuate homes across the river from the fire about 4:30 p.m., Messina said. At least 100 people have been evacuated, he said.
Fayette County is about 60 miles southeast of Charleston.
Pictures on social media, which a spokesman for the Montgomery Fire Department confirmed were of the scene, showed fire engulfing the train.
Heavy snow is falling in the area, but Messina said it is unclear if that will help extinguish the fire.