Lynchburg VA Task Force issues 32 draft recommendations on railroad safety

Repost from WSLS 10, Roanoke VA

McAuliffe’s Railroad & Security Task Force presents draft of rail safety proposal

By Margaret Grigsby, Apr 09, 2015 5:18 PM
Flames and black smoke were seen at a train derailment in downtown Lynchburg in 2014.
Flames and black smoke were seen at a train derailment in downtown Lynchburg in 2014.

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) – Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Railroad Safety and Security Task Force presented its recommendations on railroad safety and how to protect lives, property and the environment at a meeting in Richmond Thursday. The task force was created after the Lynchburg train derailment in 2014. Its report is a result of eight months of research and input multiple sources.

In a draft of the group’s report are key findings of its investigation into the current state of rail safety in Virginia as well as recommendations on how to make the tracks safer for people and the environment. The report says Virginia railroads are generally safe, efficient and reliable, however recent derailments involving Bakken crude oil and other flammable liquids is cause for concern.

Included in the recommendations section of the draft were 32 items in the areas of planning, organization, training, information sharing, response, funding and regulatory/legislative. The recommendations covered everything from prioritization of areas where a derailment would have high impact to the purchase and implementation of training equipment and procedures.

Read the full report draft here.

In a statement released by the James River Association on the task force’s report draft, Policy Specialist for the JRA Adrienne Kotula said the recommendations were a “key step forward in addressing the risks posed by transporting crude oil by rail through Virginia.”

Kotula noted what the report lacks is focus on recommendations to prevent accidents through inspections of railways.

The report noted federal studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation conclude rail transport of crude oil and ethanol could result major financial and environmental damages. The report quotes the USDOT’s 2014 research, saying:

The analysis shows that expected damages based on the historical safety record could be $4.5 billion and damages from higher-consequence events could reach $14 billion over a 20-year period in the absence of the rule.

The final recommendations from the task force are set to be issued on April 30, the anniversary of the Lynchburg Bakken crude oil train derailment. The draft is available for public comment through April 19.