Tag Archives: Yorktown VA

CSX apologizes for derailment as fire still burns

Repost from Metro News, Charleston, WV

CSX apologizes for derailment as fire still burns

By Shauna Johnson, February 17, 2015 at 5:58PM
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin at the train derailment site on Tuesday.

FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. – A CSX spokesperson offered an apology Tuesday as fire continued to burn at the site of a train derailment that forced 1,000 people to evacuate.

“I would like to apologize for the significant disruption in the lives of a lot of people in those communities there, and let me pledge that we’re working to get everything back in order as quickly as we can,” Gary Sease told MetroNews “Talkline.”

Sease and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin gave addressed Monday’s accident where 26 tanker cars that were part of a 109-car train hauling Bakken crude oil derailed near Mount Carbon and Deepwater. At times, 19 of those cars were on fire.

Flames shoot skyward after the CSX train derailed near Mount Carbon, W.Va. on Monday.

Claiming none of those burning cars made it into the Kanawha River or its Armstrong Creek tributary, Sease said officials determined “to let the fire burn out.”

Seven of the cars that derailed did not rupture and were being uprighted, while 79 other cars that stayed on the tracks had been pulled away from the derailment scene by Tuesday. Sease estimated each of the cars contained 29,500 gallons of oil.

Sease could not provide an estimate on how much crude oil may have spilled from the ruptured tanker cars and could not confirm the speed of the train at the time of the derailment.

No one was seriously injured, though one home was destroyed. Evacuated residents were not being allowed back into their homes 24 hours later and officials gave no indications of how long the evacuation would last.

State officials said 85 residents were in two emergency shelters on Monday night.

“We have arranged a number of hotel rooms,” Sease said. “We are trying to move people from shelters to the motel rooms which are more comfortable so they can stay there until the all-clear is sounded and they can get back to their homes.”

About 700 homes and businesses in Fayette County did not have power Tuesday morning because of damage blamed on the derailment and the subsequent explosion and fires that sent flames hundreds of feet into the air.

“It’s not extensive damage (to the power system), but the conditions are a little different,” said Phil Moye, spokesperson for Appalachian Power.

Moye said crews equipped with air monitors entered the derailment site to make power repairs Tuesday morning. He estimated power could be restored as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

Laura Jordan, spokesperson for West Virginia American Water Company, said the Montgomery Water Treatment Plant resumed operations at shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, though it could take as along as two days to restore service throughout the system.

The intake for the facility was closed as a precaution Monday after initial derailment reports indicated a car and its oil tumbled into the Kanawha River.

“There were no rail cars that actually made it into the river,” Jordan said, referencing information CSX provided. “In fact, the (place) where the accident occurred was right at the mouth of Armstrong Creek, which is at the mouth of the Kanawha River, but not in the Kanawha River itself.”

Jordan said three water tests were taken from Kanawha River samples and none showed crude oil in the water at the intake for the Montgomery treatment plant.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation said the Federal Railroad Administration would be visiting the scene.

The CSX train was en route from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. Last April, 17 tanker cars derailed on the same line in Lynchburg, Va., with several of the cars spilling into the James River.

A State of Emergency was still in effect for both Kanawha County and Fayette County on Tuesday.

Crews and equipment lined up along state Route 61 in Montgomery Tuesday ready to begin derailment cleanup once they get the okay.

REUTERS: Derailed CSX train in West Virginia hauled newer-model tank cars

Repost from Reuters

Derailed CSX train in West Virginia hauled newer-model tank cars

By Jonathan Leff, Feb 17, 2015 5:18pm EST 
The charred remains of a house and a vehicle are shown below a derailed CSX Corp train in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, Tuesday, February 17, 2015. REUTERS-Marcus Constantino
1 of 11. The charred remains of a house and a vehicle are shown below a derailed CSX Corp train in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Marcus Constantino

(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.

UPDATE: West Virginia derailment, explosion, evacuation, river-spill

Repost from WVNSTV.com, Ghent, WV
[Editor: Significant quote: “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.'”  – RS]

LATEST: Boomer evacuated due to train derailment fire

By Douglas Fritz, Feb 16, 2015, Updated

4:30 p.m. UPDATE:

Train derailment in the area of Boomer Bottom and Adena Village leads to evacuations.  Photo Courtesy: Dan Toney
Train derailment in the area of Boomer Bottom and Adena Village leads to evacuations. Photo Courtesy: Dan Toney

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 Powelltown 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. [BI Editor: population 615 in 2010 census]

The train 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.

Boomer has been evacuated as a result of a fire caused by a train derailment in Powelltown Hollow, WV.
Boomer has been evacuated as a result of a fire caused by a train derailment in Powelltown Hollow, WV.

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.”

3:00 p.m., 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., 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., 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.

What it’s like to live 50 feet from the oil-train tracks

Repost from WAVY-TV, Portsmouth, VA
[Editor: An excellent news video report.  Apologies for the commercial ad.  – RS]

The risk rolling on Hampton Roads rails

By Chris Horne, November 24, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The mother of 21-month-old Lily Murphy is concerned about her daughter’s safety whenever she plays in their back yard. That’s because CSX trains pass about fifty feet from their back fence, as often as five times a week.

“Nothing like that ever even crossed my mind that it could be carrying hazardous, dangerous material so it’s good that you brought that to light,” said mother Christina Murphy.

The trains haul Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Yorktown. It was a Bakken train derailment that caused a fatal inferno last year in Lac Megantic, Quebec, when nearly fifty people were killed in the explosion and fire. Another Bakken train derailed in Lynchburg last April and caused a major fire along the James River — that train was headed for Yorktown.

Photos: Train catches fire, derails in Lynchburg

Pat Calvert is a river keeper for the James River Association. His Lynchburg office is within a block of where the Lynchburg derailment occurred.

“Today, that same risk that existed on April 30, over six months later, is right here along the James River,” Calvert said. “That’s our concern: that we need to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Experts say Bakken is more flammable than other types of crude oil.

“A lot of people think about the Beverly Hillbillies and the bubbling crude oil, it’s not that kind of crude oil,” said Gregory Britt, director of the Technological Hazards Division of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “It’s probably a lot closer to gasoline, as far as the flammability.”

CSX filed paperwork with the Commonwealth detailing the shipments. The railroad confirmed to 10 On Your Side it runs two to five Bakken oil trains a week across Virginia. Each train is about a hundred cars in length, with a total payload of about three million gallons of oil.

Document: Paperwork filed by CSX

The route includes Richmond and eventually passes through Williamsburg, Newport News and York County.

“It’s highly volatile, with a low flash point, and it’s going right through highly populated areas,” Calvert said. “People don’t realize this is happening every day.”

What makes the shipments even more dangerous is the design of many of the older tank cars that haul it. Federal regulators, railroads and rail car makers agree the older cars, known as legacy DOT 111s, need safety upgrades. This specific aspect of rail transportation is regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). It’s up to PHMSA to create the rules for the modifications. PHMSA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Document: PHMSA’s proposed rule for flammable trains

“My industry likes the certainty of rule-making and has urged the Department of Transportation to move quickly on issuing a final rule,” said Tom Simpson, president of the Railway Supply Institute, the trade association that represents firms that make and service railroad tank cars.

CSX supports the safety modifications as well.

“The railroad industry supports to improve the tank car standards, to make sure that we’re moving the safest cars that we possibly can,” said CSX vice president Bryan Rhode, whose region includes Virginia.

PHMSA told WAVY News in an email that it is currently evaluating nearly 4,000 comments regarding safety upgrades for the older tank cars. A spokesman said the agency has a target date of March 31, 2015 to determine what upgrades are needed and make them mandatory.

Related link: Public comments regarding safety upgrades

Among several options, PHMSA is considering an extra jacket surrounding the cars to create a double wall, and protective guards on the top, ends and bottom. The measures would help prevent against ruptures and oil spillage.

The Quebec derailment involved about 1.3 million gallons of Bakken crude oil; the Lynchburg train leaked about 29,000 gallons.

“Lynchburg contributed to the larger discussion, nationally, about how we enhance safety for these types of trains,” Rhode said of CSX.

According to data from the US Department of Transportation, the amount of Bakken crude transported by rail has soared in recent years. In 2008, railroads hauled about 9,500 carloads. By 2013, the amount was 415,000 carloads, a 43-fold increase.

VDEM holds ongoing training for first responders to handle a potential incident involving Bakken crude.

“If there’s an event dealing with a spill, they should be able to dam it, dike it, they should be able to hold it in place for further assistance,” said Britt, who runs the training at key locations, including the York County safety services complex on Back Creek Road. “Then specialists can come in and environmental companies can clean it up.”

Christina Murphy hopes that training never has to be utilized, as she enjoys time in her yard with Lily in Newport News.

“I guess we should think about what we would do here, if something like that would happen, that’s pretty scary,” she said.