Category Archives: CSX

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.

CSX reimburses Lynchburg $107,853; Virginia regulators negotiating further penalties

Repost from The Richmond Times-Dispatch

State regulators expect penalty for CSX oil train wreck

April CSX wreck sent oil into river at Lynchburg
By Alicia Petska, The News & Advance, August 21, 2014 10:30 pm

— State environmental regulators are in talks with CSX to negotiate the terms of a consent order that will be issued in response to the estimated 29,916 gallons of oil released into the James River during the April 30 train derailment in downtown Lynchburg.

The order is expected to include a financial penalty, but the amount has not been determined yet, said Robert Weld, regional director for the Department of Environmental Quality.

Other measures may include long-term monitoring of river conditions and replanting vegetative buffers along the riverbank.

Water quality testing in the weeks after the derailment found no contaminants of concern, Weld said, but visual checks and other monitoring will continue out of an “abundance of caution.”

It remains unclear just how much of the Bakken crude oil that leaked during the downtown derailment actually mixed into the river or made its way downstream.

Much of it burned in the large fire that erupted after 17 cars on a 105-car oil train derailed near downtown Lynchburg. Three cars tumbled over the riverbank, and one ruptured. There were no injuries or building damage.

The incident drew Lynchburg into a national debate over how to safely ship the volatile crude found in Bakken shale around North Dakota, where production has skyrocketed in recent years.

On Wednesday, Weld was among more than a dozen state officials who convened in Lynchburg for the second meeting of a new rail safety task force formed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe after the derailment.

The meeting, held at City Hall, included a presentation from the federal agency charged with regulating hazmat shipments and public comments from environmental advocates and rail employee representatives.

CSX had offered to reimburse the city for the cost of its emergency response and sent the final check last week, according to Lynchburg’s finance department.

The reimbursement totaled $107,853 for personnel and equipment costs, as well as minor property damage to trees, curbs and sidewalks.

The new rail safety task force has been asked to advise the state on how it can improve its own preparedness and response efforts.

It also might weigh in on the federal regulations that govern most aspects of rail operations. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been studying the oil-by-rail issue since a deadly oil train derailment in Quebec in July 2013.

Last month, federal officials released a set of proposed rules that may lead to phasing out older DOT-111 model tankers that have been criticized as puncture prone.

There also may be higher standards for braking systems, speed limits and testing of volatile liquids. The proposed rules are in a 60-day public comment period that will end Sept. 30.

During a public hearing Wednesday, water quality advocates with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and James River Association urged officials to take a comprehensive look at the rail safety issue and not limit themselves to one region, cargo or issue.

The proposed federal regulations may not do anything to deter the kind of derailment that occurred in Lynchburg, said Pat Calvert of the James River Association, whose office is close to the derailment site.

Given the location of the derailment — near several downtown businesses and a popular trail system — it’s a miracle no one was injured, he said.

“We dodged a bullet,” Calvert said. “But we shouldn’t necessarily be playing Russian roulette here.”

The cause of the Lynchburg derailment is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB said it could be a year or more before its report is ready.

The state’s rail safety task force plans to hold its next meeting in September in the Norfolk area. It hopes to tour the Yorktown oil refinery — where oil-by-rail shipments through Virginia end up — and meet with a representative of the NTSB.

CSX Railing More Crude, Warns Against Dropping Train Speeds

Repost from Natural Gas Intel’s Shale Daily

CSX Railing More Crude, Warns Against Dropping Train Speeds

Richard Nemec, July 18, 2014

Florida-based CSX Corp. senior executives on Wednesday underscored the continuing growth in the amount of crude oil being shipped by rail and voiced concerns about proposed federal regulations that would drop average train speeds in response to a series of tank car accidents in the past 18 months (see Shale Daily, Aug. 22, 2013).

Executives offered their comments as part of a 2Q2014 conference call. CSX earned $529 million (53 cents/share) in 2Q2014, compared with year/ago earnings of $521 million (51 cents). Record revenues were $3.2 billion, up 7% from 2Q2013.

CSX CEO Michael Ward and Executive Vice President Clarence Gooden talked about the robust crude oil shipping market. Coal shipments are expected to remain higher, too, as natural gas prices hover at about $3.50/Mcf.

“The biggest part of our surge [in business] on our northern network was driven by crude-by-rail and our coal business,” Gooden said. “Our coal business was much higher than expected primarily as a result of [high] gas prices, a colder winter and utility responses.”

Gooden said he sees future crude shipment expansions along the East Coast. “There are expansions there going on as we speak,” he said. “They are predominantly in the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas; we have two customers that are looking at expanding in the Jersey area.”

Every week, CSX is averaging about 2,014 oil tank cars and 20 trains with crude-by-rail, Gooden said. “We could see some slight increases in that going forward, although there are some finite limits for what the Bakken [Shale] can produce and the refiners can process.”

On the question of proposed new federal rail regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Ward said the industry is concerned about a proposed requirement to slow trains to 30 mph. In the longer term, he expects regulators to heed the industry’s warning about that proposed rule.

“While we have not seen the proposals, we have heard that a 30 mph speed limitation is one of the options being considered, and we think that would severely limit our ability to provide freight service to our customers, and also provide passenger and commuter services,” Ward said. “There are all kinds of corollary impacts of this.

“I would hope as we look at this with the federal government that we can show the modeling of how disastrous that could be for fluidity of the entire U.S. rail system as well as the impact on [long-haul] trucking. We think cooler heads will ultimately prevail” among federal regulators.

Other parts of the proposed federal rulemaking due to recent crude rail car derailments have the full support of the CSX executives, such as the proposed crude rail tank car designs (see Shale Daily,May 7).

“We’re quite excited about the potential for the new car design as well as the retrofits to the existing cars, and that is part of the proposed rulemaking [at PHMSA],” said Ward, adding that CSX has “done a number of things” to improve safety. “We think the next big thing to make things better is a stronger car for newbuilds as well as the retrofit to existing cars.”

U.S. railroads demand states keep oil shipment details secret

Repost from CBC News, Canada

U.S. railroads demand states keep oil shipment details secret

Some states refuse to comply with requests

The Associated Press Posted: Jun 06, 2014
Damaged rail cars in Casselton, N.D.  from a train that derailed on Dec. 30, 2013. States and railroads are wrestling over whether oil shipment information can be disclosed.
Damaged rail cars in Casselton, N.D. from a train that derailed on Dec. 30, 2013. States and railroads are wrestling over whether oil shipment information can be disclosed. (Associated Press)

U.S. railroads forced to turn over details of their volatile crude oil shipments are asking states to sign agreements not to disclose the information. But some states are refusing, saying Thursday that the information shouldn’t be kept from the public.

Federal officials last month ordered railroads to make the disclosures after a string of fiery tank-car accidents in North Dakota, Alabama, Virginia and Quebec, where 47 people died when a runaway oil train exploded in the town of Lac-Mégantic.

‘If the states do not provide those signed confidentiality agreements, we will not be able to provide subsequent updated information’– spokesman for CSX railroad

The disclosures due Saturday at midnight include route details, volumes of oil carried and emergency-response information for trains hauling one million gallons or more of crude. That’s the equivalent of 35 tank cars.

BNSF, Union Pacific and CSX are seeking agreements that the information won’t be publicly shared. They said the information is security sensitive and releasing it could put them at a competitive disadvantage.

States say communities need to know

State emergency officials said communities need to know about the trains, and the proposed agreements would violate open-records laws.

“Our state statutes prohibit us from signing,” said Lori Getter with Wisconsin Emergency Management. “It will help the responders to make sure they are fully prepared and trained to respond to a potential incident. But it’s also good to let the community know.”

In addition to Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington state also have declined so far to sign the agreements, according to state emergency officials. Other states have said they intend to meet the railroads’ requests.

In Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa and Oregon, the confidentiality proposals are under review by attorneys and no decision has been made, officials said. Officials in Virginia said they intend to make the information public.

U.S. crude oil shipments topped 110,000 carloads in the first quarter of 2014. That’s an estimated 3.2 billion gallons of crude and the highest volume ever moved by rail, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday. It’s spurred by booming production in the Northern Plains.

Volatile Bakken oil

The May 7 federal order covered oil shipments by rail from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada. The Bakken produces a light, sweet crude that is highly volatile and contains more flammable gases than heavier oils such as from the oilsands region of Canada.

Federal officials have said sharing information on Bakken shipments is crucial for local firefighters and other emergency responders to be prepared for accidents.

Railroads that fail to comply face penalties of $175,000 per day and a prohibition against moving Bakken oil. But officials indicated Thursday that there will be flexibility in how the rules are enforced.

“Although we will aggressively monitor compliance, we will also consider extenuating circumstances as railroads work with states to ensure information about the shipment of crude oil is appropriately provided,” said Federal Railroad Administration Associate Administrator Kevin Thompson.

CSX spokesman Gary Sease said the company is providing the information now and asking that the confidentiality agreements be returned with 30 days.

“If the states do not provide those signed confidentiality agreements, we will not be able to provide subsequent updated information,” Sease said. The agreements are necessary “for security reasons and for competitive reasons,” he said.

Union Pacific also was providing the information to at least some states, but officials from several states said BNSF so far has not. A BNSF spokeswoman did not immediately answer whether the railroad planned to hold back the information after Saturday’s deadline.

Louisiana and New Jersey officials said they do not intend to release the information they receive. Louisiana State Police Capt. Doug Cain said there would be security concerns associated with releasing the routes, although the state plans to make sure local officials have the information.