Final cars being removed after derailment, oil spill in Virginia

05 May 2014 20:24 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The emptying and removal of train cars, which derailed onto the banks of a river in Lynchburg, Virginia, causing a fire and crude oil spill, began on Monday, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman said.

Crude oil in the remaining cars will be offloaded so the cars can be removed within the next few days, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the NTSB, which is investigating the incident.

The CSX Transportation train had been carrying crude oil to Virginia from Chicago when it derailed in downtown Lynchburg on Wednesday. A fire caused an evacuation of the area immediately around the derailment for several hours.

No injuries were reported.

The train had 105 cars, 17 of which derailed and three of those landed on the river bank. Crude oil spilled from one of the cars on the river bank and ignited, while the other two cars in the river remained intact, NTSB lead investigator Jim Southworth had said during a press conference on Friday.

Fourteen of the 17 derailed cars were CPC-1232, which is a more rigorous standard than federally required. Southworth said that he did not know if the breached car was a CPC-1232 model.

Adopted by the rail industry in 2011, the voluntary CPC-1232 standard is more rigorous, including stronger outer shells and protective shields, than federal standards require.

Preliminary inspections showed no immediate mechanical, procedural or signal system anomalies which could have contributed to the derailment. Once removed, the cars will undergo further inspection and metallurgic testing, Southworth said.

The crude oil spill in the river is estimated to be between 23,000 gal (87,000 litres) and 30,000 gal, which could impact drinking water intakes downstream in Richmond, Virginia. Water samples taken near the intakes on Thursday showed no presence of fuel compounds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site report.

CSX Transportation had placed boom in the river to contain the spill and had accepted responsibility for the cleanup. The river is being monitored for oil sheens, according to the report.

By Jessie Waldheim