Train that Exploded in Virginia was Carrying Bakken Crude - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Train that Exploded in Virginia was Carrying Bakken Crude

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Turns out the train that derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia, causing a fiery crash Wednesday, was carrying Bakken crude oil from western North DakotaA few months ago, U.S. Transportation officials warned that Bakken oil could be more flammable than other types of crude.

Investigators are trying to figure out what happened to nearly 50,000 gallons of crude oil after a freight train derailed in Virginia.  They don't know how much of it burned in the fire and how much may have actually spilled into a nearby river.
Clouds of thick, black smoke filled the air after this CSX freight train, carrying crude oil, jumped the tracks in downtown Lynchburg.  

"I saw this black smoke and flames just shooting up real bad."  

In all, about a dozen cars derailed Wednesday afternoon and caught fire along the James River, burning for about two hours.

"I was hiding behind a car, waiting for my ride to get there to let us in the car. Yeah, I wasn't 25 yards."

Nearby homes and buildings were evacuated, and while no one was injured, and the city said its water supply wasn't affected -- the incident comes amid growing concerns about the safety of transporting dangerous chemicals by rail.  Outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman held a two-day forum on the issue just last week.  

"The issue is what shouldn't be transported in those cars." 

An oil boom in North Dakota and Canada means four times more crude is being shipped by rail now than in 2005.  And that means the potential for serious accidents, like the one in Quebec last July, when a derailment and fire killed 47 people, and a string of accidents last winter in Alabama, North Dakota and New Brunswick, Canada.

In a letter sent to President Obama, just hours before the accident, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded that the federal government strengthen national safety standards for transporting crude. Cuomo warned that "inadequate rail tanks" could make states like New York "extremely vulnerable to the impacts of a derailment, spill, fire or explosion."

The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration are sending investigators to the site. A spokeswoman with the Environmental Protection Agency says the EPA is monitoring the air at the site at the request of state officials.

It's a scene eerily similar to our explosion in Casselton back in December... A CSX train carrying tankers of crude oil derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday afternoon, according to city officials, exploding into flames and spilling oil into the James River.

In a statement, CSX said that 15 cars derailed as the train traveled from Chicago to Virginia. "An initial assessment that three of the cars were on fire," said the statement, "and we have been advised by fire officials that the fire has been extinguished."

JoAnn Martin, director of communications for the city, said three or four of the cars are leaking, some of them into the river. It was not known how fast the train was traveling.

Martin said emergency responders evacuated four or five blocks in the immediate area, affecting 350 people. There have been no reported injuries, and the cause of the derailment has not been determined. Officials from CSX are reportedly on the scene.

Martin said that a state HAZMAT team was en route, and city officials had been told that the railroad company's CEO was on the way to Lynchburg.

"We are committed to fully supporting the emergency responders and other agencies, meeting the needs of the community and protecting the environment," said CSX.

The derailment is the latest in a series of fiery crashes of trains carrying crude oil in the U.S. and Canada. A 2013 accident in Quebec destroyed much of the town of Lac Megantic and killed nearly 50 people.
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