Tag Archives: Boomer WV

Cleanup, investigation continue at W.Va. derailment site

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle

Cleanup, investigation continue at W.Va. derailment site

By Pam Ramsey, Associated Press, February 22, 2015 2:19pm

BOOMER, W.Va. (AP) — A full-scale federal investigation of an oil train derailment in southern West Virginia has begun as work continues to remove the overturned tank cars from the site, federal officials said Sunday.

A fire sparked by the Feb. 16 derailment in Mount Carbon prevented investigators from gaining full access to the crash scene until this weekend. Foul winter weather also has hampered the investigation. As of Sunday, some cars had been removed from the site but many remained.

“The folks at the site of the derailment are making a lot of progress. It has absolutely been difficult. It is a great testament to them that we have no one injured up there despite the ice and snow, the cold and dampness,” Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, said Sunday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Investigators have not determined what caused 27 cars of the 109-car CSX train to go off the tracks during a snowstorm. Feinberg said the investigation is in an early stage and the railroad agency will examine all elements, including weather, the track and the operation of the train.

“Some of the things we want to look are still under the cars in the pileup,” Robert Lauby, the railroad agency’s chief safety officer, told The AP.

Investigators have reviewed video from cameras on the locomotives’ front and rear, along with video from another train that passed the CSX train minutes before the derailment. The train’s data recorder also has been recovered.

“Now we can begin work on the forensic investigation,” Feinberg said.

The investigation will include inspecting the damaged tank cars, recovering damaged rail and reviewing maintenance and inspection records, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Sunday in a news release.

The oil involved in the derailment is being tested by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine its gas content, volatility and tank car performance. Investigators also want to determine whether the oil’s classification complied with federal hazardous material regulations, the DOT said.

Derailment investigations can take several days to a couple of weeks, Feinberg said.

The train was carrying 3 million gallons of North Dakota crude when it derailed. As of Sunday afternoon, response teams had recovered 152,000 gallons from tank cars, multiple agencies responding to the derailment said in a news release.

“Some cars still have to be righted,” Skip Elliott, CSX vice president of public safety, health and environment said Sunday at a multiagency media briefing in Boomer, across the Kanawha River from the derailment site.

The derailment shot fireballs into the sky, leaked oil into a Kanawha River tributary, burned down a house nearby and forced nearby water treatment plants to temporarily shut down. Containment booms have been deployed to lessen the environmental impact.

A small amount of oil was detected in the river. Water and air monitoring in the area is continuing, Dennis Matlock, on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said at the briefing.

LOCAL MEDIA CHRONOLOGY: WV derailment and explosion

Repost from WVNS TV, Ghent, WV
[Editor:  These local updates go back in reverse chronological order to the original breaking news report at 2:21pm on Monday, about an hour after the derailment.  – RS]

UPDATE: Unified command set up in train derailment response

By Douglas Fritz, Updated Feb 18, 2015 2:15 PM PST

5:15 p.m. Wed., 2/18/15 UPDATE:
CSX representatives stated that fires from the train derailment on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 are still burning and are being allow to burn themselves out.  Officials said that is the safest course of action for the community and emergency responders.  They plan on moving the train cars that were not involved in the fire sometime on Wednesday, Feb. 18.  There are concerns that compressing the fire may cause oil to get into the water and the foam mixture used to treat this fire could have an environmental impact.  CSX is working with the EPA to develop an environmental management plan.

“Top priorities for response personnel remain the safety of the community and responders, and mitigating the impact to the environment,” said Federal On Scene Coordinator, Capt. Lee Boone.

Cars unaffected by the derailment have already been removed from the area.  Response teams began removing cars unaffected by the fire on Wednesday afternoon.  No oil has been pumped out of the unaffected tank cars.  The cars will be removed with the product still inside, because the oil cannot be pumped out of the derailed cars while the fire is still burning.  When it is safe to do so, CSX will begin transferring oil from the damaged cars to other tanks for removal from the site.  Boats are in the water to monitor the situation and keep the ice at bay.  CSX is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to make sure the water traffic is safe.

Around 100 to 125 people are currently displaced after the evacuation.  Those people are currently at hotels in Fayette County and Charleston, WV.  Some are staying with friends and family.  The evacuation will remain in place until the fire is completely burned out.  There is no timetable on when this will happen, but officials are hoping that the weather will help.

The cause of the accident had not been determined.  The Federal Railroad Administration is leading the investigation, but those crews cannot look at the burned cars because the fire is still burning.  They will be looking for train handling, which includes breaking and speed; condition of the track; condition of the train and external actors such as the weather.

1:30 p.m. Wed., 2/18/15 UPDATE:

Efforts to clean up and investigate the CSX train that derailed on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 continue days after the accident happened.  A command center was set up in Montgomery, WV and crews from Montgomery Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the EPA and CSX are based out of that location.

Route 61 in the area near the accident is still closed.  Officials said it will remain closed until the fire is completely out.  Crews are taking air and soil quality samples, and everyone who is working at the scene is required to wear an air quality monitoring device.

Once the fire finally burns itself out, railroad cars that are able to be put back on the tracks and moved will be taken away.  Officials said that the tracks will be double and triple checked.  AMTRAK passenger trains that typically use this stretch of railway are being re-routed around the area.

12:45 p.m. Wed., 2/18/15 UPDATE:

The National Transportation Safety Board is working with CSX and the Federal Railroad Administration on the investigation into the train derailment that happened on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  Investigators from the NTSB’s office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials are in communication with emergency response crews.  CSX and the FRA are providing investigators with detailed damage reports and pictures of the derailed tank cars.  The NTSB said that data from this wreck will be compared to tank car design specifications and similar derailments including Casselton, ND on Dec. 30, 2013 and Lynchburg, VA on April 30, 2014.

“This accident is another reminder of the need to improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail,” said NTSB acting chairman Christopher A. Hart.  “That is why the issue is included on our Most Wanted List.  If we identify any new safety concerns as a result of this derailment, the Board will act expeditiously to issue new safety recommendations.”

According to the release from the NTSB, the cause of the derailment is still not determined.  The investigation has found that after the derailment and unknown amount of crude oil leaked onto the ground and immediately caught fire.  The fires were allowed to burn themselves out.

West Virginia American Water announced that tank levels in the Montgomery system as of 8 a.m. showed that water service is restored to all customers.  The company is advising customers that they me have low water pressure while crews work to bring the system up to normal operating pressure.

A precautionary boil water advisory is still in effect for all customers who have service from the Montgomery system.  This is in accordance with requirements from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.  Customers will be notified when the boil water advisory is lifted.

Water samples are being taken every hour by the West Virginia National Guard 35th Civil Support Team.  A full spectrum volatile organic compounds analysis is run on each sample.  The company said all of the tests have come back showing no detection for crude oil related compounds.  Meanwhile, West Virginia American Water delivered another large quantity of bottled water to Valley high School overnight.

4:00 p.m. Tues., 2/17/15 UPDATE:

The investigation into the derailment of a CSX train on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 reveals more details about the accident.  According to CSX, 26 tanker cars derailed during the incident.  Of those cars, 19 were involved in the fire.  As of 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a limited number of small fires were still burning off.

CSX representatives are working with local, state and federal officials to remove the cars that were not affected by the derailment from the scene.  They are also deploying environmental protective measures in the affected area, the Kanawha River and the creek near the CSX tracks.

Officials said that fewer than 800 people were affected by power outages that occurred as a result of the fire.  Around 100 to 125 area residents have been temporarily displaced from their homes.  Crews with Appalachian Power are working to restore power to the homes without electricity.

2:30 p.m. Tues., 2/17/15 UPDATE:

West Virginia American Water issued a press release on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 regarding the train accident that lead to a shutdown of the Montgomery water treatment plant.  The plant was expected to be restarted at 1 p.m.  The West Virginia National Guard 35th Civil Support Team conducted three rounds of water quality testing with technicians at West Virginia American Water’s laboratory at the Kanawha Valley water treatment plant.  The samples were taken from different location at the plant and the river.  They showed non-detectable levels of components of crude oil.

As a result of plant being restarted, a precautionary boil water advisory has been issued for the system which it serves.  That affects around 2,000 customers in the communities of Montgomery, Smithers, Cannelton, London, Handley and Hughes Creek.  Residents in that area should bring any water used for drinking, cooking or bathing to a full rolling boil for at least one minute.  The water should then be allowed to cool before use.  The following steps are also recommended:

  • Throw away beverages and ice cubes if made with tap water that has not been boiled.
  • Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking.
  • Provide pets with boiled water after cooling.
  • Do not use home filter devices in place of boiling or using bottles water; most home filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms.
  • Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.

Bottled water distribution sites were set up on Tuesday afternoon at Montgomery Town Hall on Third Street in Montgomery, WV and Valley High School in Smithers.  The sites are for customers who are waiting for the water service to be restored.  West Virginia American Water provided several truckloads of bottled water and more are expected to be arriving throughout the day.  The company expects all affected customers to have their service fully restored within one or two days.

12:30 p.m. Tues., 2/17/15 UPDATE: 

Officials with CSX announced on Tuesday morning that shelters for those people affected by the train derailment in the Powellton Hollow area have been consolidated.  There are now two shelters set up in the area.  Those include Valley High School, which is being run by the American Red Cross, and the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60.

The shelter at the Glen Ferris Inn is also the site of CSX’s community outreach center.  Melanie Cost, with CSX, said that the company is working to get people back into their homes as soon as possible.  The outreach center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.

Previous locations of shelters included Armstrong Creek Fire Department, WVU Tech’s Gymnasium, Montgomery Fire Department and Valley Elementary School.  Those shelters are now closed.

UPDATE Tues., 2/17/15 : 

WV Politicians react to the train derailment as recovery efforts for a train wreck in the Powellton Hollow area proceed, West Virginia’s leaders in Congress announced they will be visiting the site on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.  U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) met with emergency first responders , local officials, area residents and CSX representatives.  According to a release from the Senator’s office, he is helping to coordinate and open lines of communication between federal, state and local administrators.

“First and foremost, after touring the derailment site, I am thankful that all West Virginians are safe.  We must work together to find ways to ensure this type of accident does not happen again and transport this material s safe as humanly possible,” said Sen. Manchin.  “I will be working with federal, state and industry officials in the coming weeks to make the necessary improvement to secure our safety.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (D-WV) said her staff is available to assist those in need.  The number for her Charleston Office is 304-347-5372.

“As the response to the Fayette County train derailment continues, my sole focus is making sure West Virginians have access to the information and resources they need.  I’ve spoken with Governor Tomblin and CSX to ensure we’re doing everything possible for those impacted by this devastating incident, and my office is in constant contact with CSX as well as federal, state and local officials.”

Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-3rd District) has also said he will be in the area.  Congressman Alex Mooney (R-2nd District) offered his comments on the situation.

“It is my sincere hope that as the derailment situation progresses we continue to avoid an serious or life-threatening injuries.  I believe the top priorities now are to protect downstream citizens’ clean drinking water and contain further spillage,” said Congressman Mooney.  “I stand ready to work with first responders and federal regulators on the scene to determine the cause of the incident and to return evacuated residents to their homes as swiftly as safety allow.  My Charleston office is ready to help with any citizens’ concerns or questions at 304-925-5964.”

West Virginia Delegate Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) announced that she is meeting with the Fayette County delegation to the WV Legislature on Tuesday.  The goal is to discuss how they can work together to help those impacted by the accident.

“I am hopeful we will use every tool at our disposal to help in the response.  We must assure that safety is the top priority for -rea residents and the emergency workers responding to this accident,” said Del. Kessinger.

8:00 a.m. Tues., 2/17/15 UPDATE:

Officials at the Emergency Operations Center estimate the fire will burn for another 24 hours after a CSX train derailed in Mount Carbon in Fayette County, WV.  Another explosion rocked the area at about 11:30 p.m. last night which hampered the cleanup effort. No injuries were reported in that explosion.

The surrounding area has been evacuated for a 1.5 mile radius.

7:30 a.m. Tues., 2/17/15 UPDATE:

The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety has announced that efforts to support first responders and emergency management personnel who are working to clean up a oil train derailment continued throughout the night and into the morning on Tuesday, Feb. 17.  Officials said initial reports that one or more tanker cars had ended up in the water appear to have been false. The West Virginia National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are helping to coordinate the overall response and field local requests for resources and assistance.  (CLICK HERE to read more about bakken crude shipment safety concerns)

The response includes providing potable water for customers of the Montgomery water treatment plant.  The National Guard 35th Civil Support Team is drawing samples to test for spilled crude oil. West Virginia American Water, with the help of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, is providing a pair of 8,000 gallon tankers to supply Montgomery General Hospital and a nearby long-term care facility to ensure their boilers can continue to operate.  The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is working with local water supply facilities to ensure the protection of public health.

CSX and the American Red Cross are assisting residents who were evacuated from the area as a result of the accident.  Shelters have been set up by state agencies at Valley High School in Smithers and Armstrong Creek Fire Department in Powellton.  CSX plans to open a community outreach center to address needs as a result of the train derailment.  That center till be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.  It is set up at the Glass-in Riverside Room at the Glen Ferris Inn on U.S. Route 60 in Glen Ferris.

The Montgomery water treatment plant still had water in its reserves at 10 p.m. on Monday night.  The intake valve at the plant was closed shortly after the accident happened to keep crude oil from entering the system.  The intake valve at the Cedar Grove plant, which is further downstream from the accident, is still open.  Crews at Cedar Grove are monitoring water approaching the intake for any signs of crude oil.7:30 p.m. UPDATE:

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) declared a state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha Counties at 5:40 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  The declaration was in response to the CSX train derailment that lead to the evacuation of the Powellton Hollow area, which includes Boomer and Adena Village.  No other counties were included in this declaration.

“Declaring a State of Emergency ensures that residents of both Kanawha and Fayette counties have the access they need to resources necessary to handle all stages of the emergency,” said Gov. Tomblin. “State official are on site and will continue to work with local and federal officials, as well as CSX representatives throughout the incident.”

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, more shelters were opened to accommodate residents of the area affected by the derailment.  Those shelters are at the Montgomery Fire Department, Valley High School in Smithers, the WVU Tech Gymnasium in Montgomery, Kimberly Community Center in Armstrong Creek and Falls View School.  Earlier in the day a shelter was set up at Valley High School.

Firefighters with the Boomer Fire Department said that there have been at least six explosions in connection with the fire that started from a CSX train that derailed in the Powellton Hollow area of Fayette County on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.  The derailment happened at around 1:30 p.m.  As a result, the entire town of Boomer was evacuated by 4:30 p.m.

The train consisted of two locomotives and 109 rail cars.  It was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, VA carrying crude oil. The scene extends along WV Route 61, near Armstrong Creek road. According to firefighters, the largest explosion happened near a house that was between the railroad tracks and the Kanawha River.  They do not believe anyone was home at the time.  State Troopers said there have been no fatalities reported.  According to a release from CSX one person was being treated for potential inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.

CSX released this statement regarding the derailment:

“CSX teams are working with first responders on the derailment this afternoon of an oil train near Mount Carbon, WV.  At least one rail car appears to have ruptured and caught fire. The derailment has resulted in the precautionary evacuation of nearby communities, and precautionary suspension of operation at the Cedar Grove and Montgomery water treatment plants. CSX is working with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to address residents’ needs, taking into account winter storm conditions.  These efforts include shelters for residents who have been evacuated.  CSX teams also are working with first responders to address the fire, to determine how many rail cars derailed, and to deploy environmental protective and monitoring measures on land, air and in the nearby Kanawha River.  The company also is working with public officials and investigative agencies to address their needs.”

Crews said oil is burning everywhere.  There are some environmental concerns if the oil is under the frozen spots in the river.  Crews on the scene said that the oil in those locations will not burn and will have “all kinds of negative impacts on the water.”

At around 3 p.m. West Virginia American Water closed the intakes to the water treatment plants at Montgomery and Cedar Grove to prevent contamination.  A release from West Virginia American Water shows that approximately 2,000 customers in the Montgomery area will lose their water service in the next few hours if the plant remains shut down.  The company is waiting for confirmation from the WV Department of Environmental Protection and emergency responders about whether or not crude oil migrated into the Kanawha River from Armstrong Creek.  The company has been given permission by the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health to restart the Montgomery water treatment plant if there is clear confirmation that crude oil and other potential contaminants did not reach the Kanawha River.

The Montgomery water treatment plant provides service to the communities of Montgomery, Smithers, Cannelton, London, Handley and Hughes Creek.  West Virginia American Water is working with emergency responders and the Bureau of Public Health on continued response efforts. The company is also working to identify additional emergency water supply options.

“West Virginia American Water apologizes to all it’s customers for this inconvenience and thank them for their patience as we work quickly to respond to this event.”

3:00 p.m., Mon., 2/16/15 UPDATE:

Water intakes in Montgomery and Cedar Grove have been closed because of the train accident along the Kanawha River.  That is according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health.

It is confirmed that the train was carrying crude oil, some of which spilled into the Kanawha River.  While the intakes are closed, customers are urged to conserve water.  The Montgomery Water System is part of West Virginia American Water Co.  The company released a statement regarding the accident.

“West Virginia American Water is aware of the train derailment just east of Montgomery on the Fayette-Kanawha County line.   The Montgomery water treatment plant, which draws water from the Kanawha River a few miles downstream of the accident, was shut down at approximately 2:30 p.m.,” said Laura Jordan, the External Affairs Manager.  “Customers in the Montgomery area are asked to conserve water and only use it for essential functions at this time.  West Virginia American Water is working with emergency responders and the Bureau for Public Health on continued response efforts.”

The West Virginia State Police expanded the evacuation order for the area at around 3:15 p.m. to include anyone with half of a mile of the fire.  Anyone who is not responding to the scene as a part of the emergency crews is asked to avoid the area.

2:30 p.m., Mon., 2/16/15 UPDATE:

Dispatchers have announced that the towns of Adena Village and Boomer Bottom are being evacuated because of a nearby train derailment.

Officials said Route 61 is being shut down as a result of the derailment. A shelter is being set up at Valley Elementary School for people who are being evacuated.

According to Lawrence Messina, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, at least one tanker has fallen into the river, and authorities believe crude oil is in the tanker. Messina said officials were unsure if anything else was in the tanker. Messina said the Department of Environmental Protection also was responding to the accident to assess the situation.

2:21 p.m., Mon., 2/16/15 Original Story: 

Firefighters and emergency crews have responded to a train accident in Montgomery, WV busy.

The accident happened at about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Details on what exactly happened are still limited at this time. Officials have said that a train has derailed. The location of the accident is near Montgomery, within a four mile radius. Watch for updates hear and on the air as information becomes available.

RACHEL MADDOW: ND oil train safeguards too little, too late

Repost from MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show
[Editor: You have to be patient at the beginning of this report – Rachel will take you through font size in the NYTimes 100 years ago for a pretty good reason.  Her sometimes roundabout and always repetitive hype proves to be well worth it.  She is one of very few who have reported on – and made understandable – the difference between oil stabilization and oil conditioning.  Hang in there….  – RS]

ND oil train safeguards too little, too late

Rachel Maddow and Wall Street Journal senior energy reporter Russell Gold discuss if new oil train safety regulations will be enough to prevent disasters like the derailment in West Virginia yesterday that caused huge explosions.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 02/17/15

Derailed oil train burns for second day in W.Va.

Repost from USA Today

Derailed oil train burns for second day in W.Va.

By Michael Winter, February 17, 2015

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.