Category Archives: James River

NTSB crash analysis in Lynchburg derailment slow, deliberate

Repost from The Roanoke Times
[Editor: Slow, deliberate … and of course, COSTLY.  – RS]

NTSB says train cars being analyzed in Lynchburg derailment investigation

June 3, 2014  |  by Alicia Petska, Lynchburg News & Advance
Train Derailment.JPEG-050.1
Associated Press | National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator James Southworth said it’s too early to say if weather was a factor in Wednesday’s oil train derailment in Lynchburg.

Federal officials continue to sift through a mountain of information in the Lynchburg train derailment, lead investigator Jim Southworth said.

Southworth, of the National Transportation Safety Board, was among some 80 federal, state and local officials who attended a rail safety roundtable organized Monday by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner.

Southworth was not one of the speakers, but in an interview afterward he said the investigation into what caused the April 30 train derailment in Lynchburg is continuing at a slow and deliberate pace.

Southworth said officials will review CSX’s maintenance and inspections records going back months.

In addition, the team will do a 3-D scan, inside and out, of the oil tanker that ruptured and send pieces of it off to a lab for metallurgical testing.

Other tankers in the 105-unit train that derailed will be scanned as well to compare their performance to the ruptured unit.

Southworth said it is too early to comment on what may have caused the derailment that upset 17 oil tanker cars, three of which fell into the James River.

He said Monday he hoped to complete the investigation in a year or less.

“There is a lot of interest in what happened here because of the type of tanker cars,” he noted. “It’s going to be scrutinized quite deliberately.”

The train that derailed in downtown Lynchburg contained a mix of older and newer model oil tankers, but the car that ruptured was a newer model intended to be safer in the event of an crash.

The derailment, which sparked a large fire on the river but caused no injuries, has made Lynchburg part of a national debate on the best way to ship crude oil in the country.

So far, there has been no evidence the derailment was caused by operator error, Southworth said. He declined to comment on other possibilities and said the investigation still is in the fact-gathering stage.

Investigators no longer are working on-site at the derailment scene, but continue to gather information and analyze the train cars and pieces of the damaged track.


    NTSB Investigating Lynchburg, Virginia Crude Oil Derailment

    Repost from The Legal Examiner

    NTSB Investigating Virginia Crude Oil Derailment

    Posted by Patrick Austin  |   May 27, 2014

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is taking charge of the investigation of an oil train on April 30 that was hauling crude oil through Lynchburg, Virginia (VA). However, it will be many months before any conclusions are reached and recommendations issued.

    According to Investigator Jim Southworth, these incidents happen fast but they take a long time to go through. At this point, the NTSB is gathering facts before moving into analysis. Depending upon how complex the oil accident was, it could take 6-18 months before the report is completed.


    Personnel from the Federal Railroad Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Lynchburg’s fire and police departments, labor unions, and CSX Transportation are helping with the investigation, he said.

    Several working groups will look at train operations, communications, mechanics, the track and several other areas. These groups then will meet each day to share the information they glean. The preliminary investigation has shown that the train had 105 cars of crude oil and was traveling under the 25 MPH speed limit when the train derailed. Three cars were dumped into the James River.

    A total of 13 cars on the CSX train derailed on April 30 at 2:30 PM as it rolled through Lynchburg. Three tankers broke out in flames and nearby residences and businesses had to be evacuated.

    CSX removed all of the cars that did not derail, in coordination with local first responders. The railroad also is now doing an environmental assessment that includes air, water and land-based assessments of potential environmental effects.


      State of Virginia forms Task Force on Railroad Safety & Security

      Repost from The Lynchburg News & Advance

      McAuliffe names co-chairs of new railroad safety task force

      Autumn Parry/The News & Advance  |  May 15, 2014
      Olympia Meola Richmond Times-Dispatch
      Train derailment
      Autumn Parry/The News & Advance – Train derailment – Three CSX tankers sink as they leak crude oil into the James River after the train derailed in Lynchburg on April 30.

      Virginia’s secretaries of Transportation and of Public Safety and Homeland Security will co-chair the state’s Railroad Safety and Security Task Force established in the aftermath of the train derailment in Lynchburg that thrust cars carrying crude oil into the James River.

      Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday announced leadership of the interagency panel that will also include representatives from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, the State Corporation Commission, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia State Police.

      The task force, which will hold its inaugural meeting at 1 p.m. on June 4, will solicit input from the public and present recommended state and federal actions intended to prevent future accidents and ensure the state is prepared should one occur.

      The tanker car derailment April 30 in Lynchburg raised concerns over the potential threat to public water supplies in the Richmond area and the ecology of the James River.

      The CSX train was carrying 105 tanker cars of crude oil from shale fields in North Dakota to Yorktown. Seventeen of the tanker cars derailed, and a massive fire ensued. Three of the derailed cars tumbled into the James River.

      McAuliffe said in a statement that the task force is an important step toward ensuring that Virginia “is doing everything it can to keep our railroads and the communities around them safe, and that we are prepared to respond to incidents like the derailment and fire in Lynchburg earlier this month.”

      “I have asked Secretaries [Brian J. Moran] and [Aubrey Layne] to bring our public safety, transportation and environmental protection agencies together to investigate what happened in Lynchburg and make recommendations of how Virginia can work with the federal government to keep our communities and our natural resources as safe as possible.”